Federal prosecutors are probing Johnson & Johnson’s practices when it came to marketing a line of hip replacements recalled in 2010 because of the high rate of revision surgeries. According to a news report in The Associated Press, the hip replacement recalls were a part of more than 30 product recalls by the health care giant just in the last three years.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts and the Civil Division of the U.S. Justice Department last August sent Johnson & Johnson an “informal request” for information about its ASR hip replacements, the company reported in a regulatory filing.
The government has apparently asked for additional documents from the company and its subsidiaries, DePuy, which is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of joint replacements and other orthopedic surgical products. DePuy recalled two artificial joint systems — the ASR Hip Resurfacing System and the ASR XL Acetabular System — in August 2010 because of unexpectedly high rates of failure.
In those cases, the implants came loose or tiny pieces of metal from the defective hip implant had disintegrated into the patient’s body causing immune problems. Several studies including Johnson & Johnson’s own internal study corroborated the fact that these hip implants were susceptible to early failure.
Series of Medical Device Recalls
In 2007, the company paid $84.7 million in government fines as part of a sweeping investigation by the Justice Department into alleged kickbacks where J & J and four other top manufacturers of hip and knee replacement devices were accused of paying surgeons to get them to use their products exclusively between 2002 and 2006.
J & J’s spate of recalls has continued into recent weeks. Last week, the company issued a recall on its “Adept” brand of all-metal hip implants due to high failure rates. On February 22, it recalled its LPS Diaphyseal Sleeve, a knee replacement device, because of the possibility that patients to suffer fractures, loss of mobility, loss of limb, infection or even death.
Justice and Compensation for Victims
The results of the federal probe are still unknown. But, it would be interesting to see how Johnson & Johnson marketed its products. Did the marketing continue even after the company knew that its products were defective and were likely to fail earlier than expected? I hope that is a question federal officials ask.
Victims of these dangerous and defective devices face serious consequences including loss of mobility, loss of income and loss of livelihood. In addition, they are saddled with medical expenses such as cost of surgery, hospitalization and rehabilitation. Anyone who has been injured as a result of a hip or knee implant device would be well advised to contact an experienced product liability lawyer who will fight for their rights and ensure that justice is served.