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DePuy’s Delay Carries a $3 Billion Cost

January 1, 1970 · FLEMING | NOLEN | JEZ, L.L.P.

In the past several weeks several news outlets have reported significant developments with regards to DePuy, the subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson responsible for the metal-on-metal hip implants that are now failing at an alarmingly rapid rate. The New York Times has reported that a DePuy executive, Pamela Plouhar, noted that the FDA was extremely concerned about the high rate of failure that would require revision surgeries in the DePuy ASR hip, and thus, the FDA refused to approve the device in 2009. DePuy is reported to have access to data that showed the ASR hips were failing at a dramatic rate as far back as 2008. But in 2009, the company continued to blame orthopedic surgeons and attack criticisms of such failures. Despite having the benefit and knowledge of the FDA’s ruling internally, DePuy made the conscious decision not to release this data to the public in 2009. This decision has potentially put thousands of patients at risk.

It is clear that DePuy’s actions have not only damaged thousands of patients with metal-on-metal hip implants, but Johnson & Johnson investors as well. In another noteworthy development, J&J has set aside $3 billion reserved for “products liability” cases – specifically concerning DePuy metal-on-metal hip implant lawsuits. But at this juncture it is purely speculative that this amount is adequate enough with the exploding numbers of metal-on-metal hip implant failures and potential cases coming forward every day.

Bottom line, DePuy knew that metal-on-metal hip implants were failing, and chose not to inform the public and/or act decisively. Ironically, this “business” decision of placing an emphasis on profits over people now has resulted in a huge financial burden to not only thousands of patients across the country, but its parent company Johnson & Johnson.