Johnson & Johnson,-the companies behind allegedly defective hip implants which left thousands of patients in pain and in need of revision surgery-bragged about its sales figures being “on fire” due to revision surgeries to remove and replace defective metal-on-metal hip device implant device.
Internal documents, which were obtained by the Telegraph reveal that Paul Berman, the then-director of hip marketing at DePuy, boasted that “revisions are fueling our above market growth.” In an email to colleagues in April 2009 he wrote that DePuy Orthopaedics should “dominate” the market for revision surgery “in the same way we did the primaries.” Primaries refer to the initial hip replacement surgeries.
In fact, in one of Mr. Berman’s April 2009 emails entitled “DePuy Revision Hips,” he wrote, in part “Great data Derek. Team, it’s time to dial up the volume around DePuy’s Hip Revisions portfolio. Clearly revisions are fuelling our above market growth. This revision sector is on fire and we must dominate it in the same way we did primaries. Derek and his team are partnering with Development to ensure a solid cadence of new products kicking off in Q1,” the Telegraph reported. Mr. Berman’s email was written in response to a group message from Derek Edgar, group product director at DePuy on April 1 2009. Mr. Edgar reported figures that revealed an increase in sales of “revision hips,” which he described as “a segment of the hip portfolio that has been quietly but steadily gaining momentum.”
According to the Telegraph, many revision surgeries conducted at the time in the National Hospital System (NHS) and private hospitals in Great Britain were undertaken to replace parts from DePuy Orthopaedics’ metal-on-metal devices, which are now known to leak toxic metal ions into patients’ bodies.
Revision surgeries are more complex, more expensive procedures that are riskier and require longer healing times and, as the Consumers Union has noted, revision surgeries involve longer hospital stays. Despite that revision surgeries are typically performed to remove a device maker’s faulty device, costs are assumed not by the device maker, but by consumers and insurers, including Medicare.
The product liability attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP have decades of experience representing clients in medical device litigation, including litigation involving metal-on-metal hip devices. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a metal-on-metal hip replacement lawsuit.
The disclosure of Mr. Berman’s email comes after the Telegraph also recently revealed how Graham Isaac, a senior DePuy Orthopaedics engineer, issued a 1995 warning that metal-on-metal constructions were “unpredictable” and its parts were prone to “catastrophic breakdown.” Yet, five years later, DePuy produced a new metal-on-metal hip device implant. Currently, more than 23,000 DePuy metal-on-metal hips have been implanted in U.K. patients since 2003.
Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, described the disclosures as “scandalous,” noting that DePuy appeared to be “making a profit from hiding the truth.”
A surgeon who assisted in the invention of the DePuy Orthopaedics metal-on-metal Pinnacle hip devices described in a 2011 presentation how “hip surgeons were seduced into using MoM [metal-on-metal].” DePuy paid the surgeon, Thomas Fehring. He defined “seduction” as “1) to lead astray; 2) to lead someone into a behavioral choice they might otherwise not have made.”
Mr. Berman’s email and the documents written by Dr. Fehring and Dr. Isaac were filed in a United States court where lawyers for patients suing DePuy suggested the email appeared to show that “the company was really excited” to find that one part was “failing and they get to sell another one.” For his part, Andrew Ekdahl, DePuy’s president, told a Texas court that he “disagree[d] with that characterization completely.” The court heard that British Surgeon, Tony Nargol, repeatedly advised DePuy from 2008 concerning problems with its metal-on-metal hip implants, according to the Telegraph report.
Mr. Berman was advised in a September 26, 2008 email that was read in court and indicated that a number of metal-on-metal cases had been discussed at a large meeting of senior hip surgeons that day that “looked alarming and concerning…. The images for metal-on-metal reaction looked bad,” a colleague reported, according to the Telegraph.
Metal-on-metal implants were introduced in the U.K. in the 1990s and were promoted as offering improved mobility than devices constructed with a metal ball and plastic socket. Documents obtained by the Telegraph appear to reveal that DePuy knew of potentially serious problems that might be caused by the devices.