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DePuy Formally Unveils Multibillion-dollar Settlement of ASR Hip Cases

Nov 20, 2013

DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., a division of Johnson & Johnson, and the court-appointed committee of lawyers representing ASR Hip System plaintiffs yesterday announced a settlement agreement to compensate eligible ASR patients in the United States who had surgery to replace an ASR hip as of August 31, 2013.

The U.S. settlement is valued at approximately $2.5 billion, based on an estimate of 8,000 patients participating in the program, according to a Johnson & Johnson news release. The majority of the payments related to this settlement are projected to occur during 2014 from currently available cash, the company says.

The settlement program is available to U.S. ASR patients who had revision surgery for reasons related to the recall as of August 31, 2013. 

The proposed settlement was submitted on Tuesday to a federal judge in Toledo, Ohio, and must receive the support of 94 percent of eligible claimants to go forward, The New York Times reports. It is unclear whether that goal will be reached. Some patients might decide to seek more through individual lawsuits. Compensation is based in part on length of time the patient had the implant; age, weight, smoking, and “extraordinary injuries” related to the implant.

The recalled Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) is one of the most-flawed medical implants sold in recent decades, according to the Times. In a 2011 internal document, DePuy estimated that the device would fail within five years in 40 percent of the patients who received it. Traditional artificial hips, which are made of metal and plastic, typically last 15 years or more. DePuy recalled the ASR device in mid-2010 amid rising failure rates, but before the recall, 93,000 of the hips had been implanted, about one-third of these in the U.S.

The ASR hip had a metal ball and a metal cup design and it sheds metallic debris as it wears, generating particles that have damaged bone and tissue or caused crippling injuries. Revision surgery to replace the failed hip is riskier and more complicated than the original hip replacement because of bone and tissue damage recipients have suffered.

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