A year after DePuy Orthopaedics recalled 93,000 artificial hips from around the world, the company estimated that more than a third of the devices would fail within four and a half years, according to the company’s internal documents recently unsealed as part of court records.
The evidence was revealed during the first of more than 10,000 lawsuits against DePuy and Johnson & Johnson regarding the defective hip implants, and has caused a wave of concern halfway around the world, with British MPs calling for a criminal inquiry into DePuy based on the unsealed documents.
The failure-rate estimate came during pretrial testimony of Paul Voorhorst, a biostatistician for DePuy, who when asked by a plaintiffs attorney about a company review of 554 implanted artificial hip devices through September 2011, confirmed that the company estimated 37 percent of the devices would fail at 4.57 years.
Most artificial hips can last 20 years or more, with a failure rate in that time of about 12-14 percent. Unlike traditional hip implants, which are made from plastic or ceramic parts, DePuy’s recalled implant was made from all metal parts. The design turned out to be defective. Not only were the devices failing prematurely, the metal was also corroding inside the bodies of some patients causing pain and inflammation, and leeching heavy metals into the bloodstream.
Johnson & Johnson says it has spent about $800 million on hip implant recalls since 2010, when it pulled the ASR device off the market. The company has offered to pay more than $200,000 a case to settle most of the lawsuits filed against it, but lawyers have so far rejected the offer saying the compensation is too low.