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Court documents reveal undisclosed internal analysis of DePuy hip device

For several years, media outlets have reported patients experiencing problems with all-metal hip implants. One in particular involves the DePuy hip replacement device manufactured by DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., a division of the pharmaceutical and medical supply giant Johnson & Johnson.

As early as 2008, patients who underwent hip replacement procedures reported to experience many different types of issues with the metal hip implants, specifically the DePuy ASR XL Acetabular metal-on-metal hip replacement system, also known as A.S.R. Many devices were even failing for patients. In some cases, the hip replacement allegedly produced microscopic debris when the metal head rubbed against the metal cup. To date about 93,000 individuals around the world received the A.S.R. implant.

As a result, in 2010, Johnson & Johnson recalled the A.S.R. device. Thereafter, thousands of lawsuits were filed against DePuy Orthopaedics and Johnson & Johnson. However, the lawsuits opened the door for many company documents to become available. Among the documents included an internal analysis conducted by Johnson & Johnson about the quality of the DePuy metal hip device. The analysis revealed startling information the company knew about but did not disclose to the public.

Details of the analysis

Specifically, the analysis revealed that during the period when the A.S.R, device was being recalled in 2010, Johnson had predicted a fail rate in about 40 percent of the patients that received the device. The company also predicted that the device was only expected to last 5 years. (A hip implant typically lasts for 15 years.)

However, despite its discovery, Johnson & Johnson didn’t tell the public; instead the company reportedly downplayed the fail rate predictions previously disclosed by a British implant registry and other medical organizations.

A DePuy company spokeswoman indicated though that the analysis wasn’t released because “it was based on a small, limited set of data that could not be used to generalize the overall failure rate for the A.S.R.”

The discovery of the company analysis is one of thousands of internal documents expected to be released during the trials against Johnson & Johnson. Currently one trial is underway in the California Superior Court in Los Angeles. Other lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson over the A.S.R. device are currently pending. About 7,000 are presently being consolidated in Ohio federal court and 2,000 in California state court.

It remains to be seen what other information Johnson knew or didn’t know about regarding the DePuy devices. As more documents are reviewed and scrutinized during these trials, more information is likely to come to light.

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