About 500 lawsuits have been filed against DePuy Orthopaedics, the makers of the ASR metal-on-metal hip replacement system. Plaintiffs claim the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary knew its artificial hip was defective and was failing at a higher than expected rate just months or a few years after surgery, yet DePuy continued to market it to physicians. In response to a federal lawsuit filed in January in the Northern District of Ohio, DePuy denied its devices were defective or dangerous and denied making any false representations. They also said patients who had had to undergo revision surgery to have their implants replaced were not entitled to compensation for their pain and suffering.
The news was all but insulting to Larry Barnett, 58, a construction worker who had to have his DePuy ASR artificial hip replaced just two years after surgery. He opted for the new DePuy implant because the metal-on-metal system was designed to be more durable and less prone to dislocation and wear than traditional devices.
Most hip replacements can last as long as 35 years before needing to be replaced. But data from the National Joint Registry of England and Wales show that the DePuy’s ASR implant was failing at a higher than expected rate in just five years or less.
The metal-on-metal parts were also causing another condition known as metallosis, a type of blood poisoning. As the parts rubbed together, bits of metal were leaching into the bloodstream causing inflammation and tissue damage around the hip. These heavy metals can also cause cancer. Barnett had blood tests last November, which reported that his chromium figure was high.
Barnett says that Johnson & Johnson had agreed to cover his medical expenses but no pain and suffering costs. When they learned he had hired an attorney, they backed away from offering any support. Barnett expects the judicial system to hold DePuy and Johnson & Johnson accountable for the pain and suffering they caused him and others who have received the defective ASR implants.