The first hearing for federal DePuy ASR hip implant lawsuits was held earlier this week. The status conference was convened to determine which defective medical device lawyers would serve on the plaintiffs’ steering committee for the DePuy hip implant multidistrict litigation.
Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopaedics unit issued a worldwide recall for the ASR XL Acetabular Hip Replacement System 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. By then, more than 93,000 patients worldwide were fitted with an ASR hip implant. It is believed that roughly a third of those were patients in the U.S.
DePuy has since been named in scores of product liability lawsuits in the U.S. and elsewhere. Federal DePuy hip implants lawsuits have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation before U.S. District Judge David A. Katz of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. Judge Katz will likely make a decision about the membership of the plaintiffsâ€™ steering committee in the next few weeks, before the next DePuy hip court conference, which could occur in early February.
The ASR Hip Implant System is a metal-on-metal hip implant made of chromium and cobalt, consisting of a cup that’s implanted into the hip with a ball joint that connects to the leg. It is believed that many of the complications linked to the DePuy ASR XL Acetabular hip implant are caused by wearing of the metal components, which can allow metal shavings to make their way into patients’ bloodstreams, leading to tissue breakdown, bone loss, and even the formation of non-cancerous tumors. The shedding of metal shavings can cause cobalt poisoning, a disorder that, if left untreated, can put patients at risk of tinnitus (ringing in the ears), vertigo, deafness, blindness, optic nerve atrophy, convulsions, headaches, peripheral neuropathy, cardiomyopathy, and hypothyroidism.
DePuy first notified U.S doctors that there were problems with the ASR hip replacement system in March 2010. It waited until August, however, to finally recall the defective hip implant.