DePUY HIP IMPLANT RECALL – INTERNATIONAL LITIGATION UPDATE

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND RELATED BLOG ENTRIES VISIT OUR DEDICATED DePUY HIP IMPLANT RECALL PAGE

An artificial hip recall was issued last month after DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc. – which is a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson – acknowledged that its metal-on-metal hip replacement systems have an unacceptably high failure rate, with roughly one in eight of the devices malfunctioning within five years of being implanted.

The affected products are the ASR XL Acetabular System, a hip socket used in traditional hip replacement, and the ASR Hip Resurfacing System, a partial hip replacement that involves placing a metal cap on the ball of the femur.

Approximately 93,000 DePuy ASR hips have been sold worldwide, over 3,500 of which were implanted in Irish patients.  As the implants were sold globally it’s perhaps not surprising that legal claims for compensation are cropping up all over the world.

While a small number of legal claims over the hip implant were issued prior to the recall, the volume of litigation internationally is expected to increase dramatically as individuals learn about the problems with DePuy ASR systems.

Lawsuits were first commenced in the U.S., with claims now pending in at least five different states, including at least one DePuy ASR class action lawsuit.  A motion has been filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate and centralize all federal DePuy ASR hip recall lawsuits in one court.

One man in Australia has already signed on to a class action lawsuit seeking damages on behalf of people injured by the recalled devices.  As thousands of Australians have received the implant it is expected that this number will increase significantly over time.

It’s not currently clear how many patients were fitted with the device in the UK but 257 clinical centres are believed to have used the ASR devices, meaning that the number of systems implanted will probably be significant.

Based on the number of enquiries which we have had from Irish patients since the recall it would be safe to assume that there will be a considerable quantity of actions in this country as well.

It is surprising that the ASR was not recalled earlier having regard to the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has stated that it received about 300 complaints on the ASR involving patients in the U.S since early 2008.  The reason for finally announcing the recall appears to have been after data from the National Joint Registry of England and Wales showed that 1 out of every 8 patients (12%-13%) who had received the recalled devices had to undergo revision surgery within five years of receiving it.

DePuy has said that it will cover ‘reasonable’ and ‘customary costs’ for treating and reviewing affected patients.  However, it has attempted in return to get patients to sign ‘consent forms’ which could seriously hinder a patient’s ability to bring a successful claim for damages for personal injuries against the company.  We have advised the clients for whom we are instructed to issue proceedings for damages not to sign these forms until we have received certain assurances from DePuy.

The design defects in the ASR systems will at the very least cause patients to incur additional medical expenses and loss of earnings in undergoing the necessary follow-up treatment which is now being recommended on foot of the recall.  Many patients have also been suffering from pain and difficulty in walking prior to the recall and they now face the prospect of potentially painful surgery to replace the defective implant.

According to the Irish Independent it is estimated that if all 3,500 units in Irish patients are to be replaced the cost of this revision surgery alone could cost anywhere between €30,000 and €50,000 per operation meaning that the Irish recall could cost DePuy in excess of €100m before the issues of compensation and legal costs are addressed.

If you have been affected by the ASR hip implant recall and would like to arrange a free initial consultation with John McCarthy feel free to call him on 023 883 3348 or email him at john@mccarthy.ie to discuss your case in complete confidence and without commitment.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND RELATED BLOG ENTRIES VISIT OUR DEDICATED DePUY HIP IMPLANT RECALL PAGE

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John specialises in personal injury and medical negligence claims. His practice focuses on high value compensation cases. He has extensive experience in this area of litigation for over 10 years. Read more