Johnson & Johnson has completed its acquisition of Synthes, Inc. and will integrate Synthes with its subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics to establish the DePuy Synthes Companies of Johnson & Johnson. The deal was sealed with $19.7 billion in cash and stock.
“The completion of the Synthes acquisition creates the world’s most innovative and comprehensive orthopaedics business and reflects our long-standing strategy of leadership within attractive health care markets,” said Alex Gorsky, Chief Executive Officer, Johnson & Johnson. “The combination of these two respected leaders — Synthes and DePuy — will enable us to better serve clinicians and patients worldwide, bring new innovations to the marketplace in orthopaedics and neurologics, and strengthen our ability to compete in developing markets.”
Despite the praise, DePuy enters into the merger with a scarred past. The company initiated one of the largest medical device recalls in history when it withdrew its ASR XL Acetabulator hip replacement and hip resurfacing systems due to premature failures. The devices were made of metal-on-metal construction designed to be more durable than traditional plastic or ceramic implants. However, shortly after the hip implants hit the market, problems began to arise.
What was different about the failures with the DePuy devices was that they were often aggravated by inflammation caused by tiny bits of metal debris that flaked off and into the joint space when the metal parts of the device rubbed together. In some cases, cobalt and chromium were found in patients’ blood samples. The only remedy is revision surgery to remove and replace the faulty devices.
Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against DePuy and Johnson & Johnson by patients who have received the defective artificial hips and have experienced pain and disability.