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Still Surprised After All These Years: Profits over Patients

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

You would think after more than a decade of litigating mass tort cases against drug and device manufactures that the testimony of Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy engineers would not shock me. But it still does!

Testimony from the on-going trial against DePuy Orthopedics, a Johnson & Johnson company, supports thousands of plaintiffs’ claims that the DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip implant was defectively designed and the company knew of its extremely high failure rates but marketed the hip implant anyway.

  • Johnson’s & Johnson’s DePuy bioengineer, James Anderson, expressed disappointment that his research on the ASR metal-on-metal hip implant’s failure rate ended with no change to the actual implants.
  • Anderson’s research supported the conclusion that small improvements to the design of the ASR metal-on-metal hip implant could mean large improvements for hip implant patients.
  • Plaintiff’s expert witness testified that the ASR metal-on-metal hip implants had a high failure rate due to several design defects.
  • Testimony supports Johnson & Johnson’s ASR metal-on-metal hip implants failed at rates between 27% and 40%.
  • Johnson’s & Johnson’s DePuy engineer, Graham Isaac, agreed that Johnson & Johnson’s ASR metal-on-metal hip implants were recalled because of safety issues not because the company was acting prudently.

Over the years and after many litigated cases, I would have hoped that the drug and device manufacturers would have learned their lesson. Clearly, that is not the case.