DePuy President resigns amid mounting hip-implant lawsuits

Johnson & Johnson has announced the resignation of DePuy Orthopaedics president David Floyd, who led the hip-implant manufacturing operation since 2007. DePuy has been grappling with recalls and lawsuits over it ASR XL Acetabular hip implant system and ASR Hip Resurfacing System, which have been implanted in about 40,000 Americans and an additional 53,000 patients worldwide.

Johnson & Johnson says that Mr. Floyd is leaving “to pursue other interests outside the company,” but the timing of his departure, effective at the end of March, suggests Johnson & Johnson is seeking new leadership for DePuy as lawsuits against the companies mount. More than 500 lawsuits have been filed in the United States by plaintiffs whose lives have been adversely affected by the faulty hip implants. Lawsuits have also been filed against DePuy in Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, and many other countries.

DePuy distinguished itself in the medical device industry by manufacturing metal-on-metal hip implant systems that promised greater durability and a longer life span than traditional metal-on-plastic implants. But signs of trouble began to appear shortly after the first Depuy ASR hips were implanted in 2003.

Patients complained of gradually worsening pain in the hip implant area, loosening of the implant, and a reduced ability to walk. Many implant recipients reported a spectrum of ailments associated with heavy metal poisoning. It turns out that DePuy’s unique metal-on-metal components chafed against each other, often sending particles of cobalt into the blood and tissue. Failed implants require patients to undergo revision surgery to replace the defective hips.

Complaints against DePuy usually assert that the company was aware its ASR hip implants failed at an alarming rate (12-13 percent within the first 5 years), but continued to manufacture and sell the devices to unsuspecting physicians and patients.

DePuy, part of Johnson & Johnson’s Medical Devices & Diagnostics group, generated $5.59 billion in revenues last year.