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Australian Signs on to US Johnson & Johnson DePuy ASR Hip Implant Lawsuit

Sep 1, 2010

The Johnson & Johnson DePuy ASR hip implant recall was issued globally, and now it appears that lawsuits involving the defective hip implants are going global as well. According to a report out of Australia, one man in that country has already signed on to a class action lawsuit seeking damages on behalf of people injured by the recalled devices. Considering that thousands of people in Australia recieved a recalled Johnson & Johnson DePuy ASR hip implant, it is likely that more plaintiffs will follow.

Johnson & Johnson announced the recall of the DePuy ASR Hip Implant system last month, after data from the National Joint Registry of England and Wales showed that 1 out of every 8 patients (12%-13%) who had received the recalled devices had to undergo revision surgery within five years of receiving it. The recall involved the ASR XL Acetabular System, a hip socket used in traditional hip replacement, and the ASR Hip Resurfacing System, a partial hip replacement that involves placing a metal cap on the ball of the femur. Only the ASR XL Acetabular System was approved for use in the US.

The problems with the ASR system had been well documented well before the recall was issued. In March, DePuy Orthopedics warned that one of the devices appeared to have a high early failure rate. According to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) records, since early 2008, it received about 300 complaints on the ASR involving patients in the U.S.

At least 93,000 people around the world have received one of the recalled Johnson & Johnson DePuy ASR hip implants. Symptoms that an ASR hip implant has failed may include an increase in pain or difficulty walking. However, even patients not experiencing symptoms have been warned to have their implant checked out, as symptoms may not be present.

The recall has already led to the filing of product liability lawsuits in the US. According to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald, Brisbane-based Bob Lugton, 66, is the first Australian to join a US lawsuit involving the Johnson & Johnson DePuy ASR hip implant. Lugton, whose health has been severely compromised through leakage of cobalt into his body and degradation of the hip joint, is scheduled to undergo surgery next month.

Without the surgery, Lugton will be unable to walk, as his hip implant will eventually crack. But even once that is fixed, his blood cobalt levels are still 750 percent above normal. Lugton told the Sydney Morning Herald that the cobalt is “eating away” at his bones, causing other health problems.

It’s unlikely that Lugton will be the last Australian to file suit in the US. His attorney told the Sydney Morning Herald that they expected up to 700 Australians to be affected out of the 5000 implants that have been implanted there.

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