Evidence points to the fact that Johnson & Johnson knew there was a serious problem with their product, but rather than stopping distribution, they sold off what was left in their inventories.
According to a recent report by the New York Times, in 2009, executives from Johnson & Johnson decided to “phase out” a defective hip implant and sell off what was already manufactured, just weeks after the Food and Drug Administration asked the company for added safety data about the implant. At the time, the FDA also alerted the company to the fact that blood tests of some recipients of the implant showed a “high concentration of metal ions” that it found to be “concerning.” Nevertheless, the company continued to peddle its stockpile.
Johnson & Johnson is an American pharmaceutical and cosmetic conglomerate that disseminates packaged goods across more than 175 countries. DePuy Orthopedics is the devision of Johnson & Johnson responsible for manufacturing the implants in question. Johnson & Johnson is the largest healthcare company in the world, and has approximately 250 subsidiary companies, which include numerous household-known brand names of medications, first-aid supplies, toiletries, and beauty products.
Johnson & Johnson, through its subsidiary companies, sells products to the public. As a result, their customers have an inherent right to expect that products and medical devices distributed by the company are safe. Under Illinois product liability law, when dangerous or defective products are sold to consumers and those products cause injury, illness, death, or any other kind of harm to the customer, the producer of the good may be held legally responsible for the injury and may be required to pay for damages caused by the injury. The liability is compounded when the company manufacturing the defective good is aware of the problem, but fails to do anything about it or continues to sell it to the public. That’s exactly what happened here.
When the FDA sent its letter to officials at Johnson & Johnson, the agency privately announced that it would reject the corporation’s application to sell the artificial joint in the U.S., and that agency reviewers had found problems with study data submitted by DePuy to support its claim that the artificial hip was safe and effective, reported the New York Times.
Despite the fact that the Food and Drug Administration had expressed concerns about the implants in 2009, it was not until August of 2010 that DePuy recalled the devices. The New York Times reports that, in the meantime, prior to the recall, executives for Johnson & Johnson devised a plan to “phase out” the problematic products as they depleted their inventory.
Ultimately, late in 2010, DePuy Orthopaedics issued a voluntary recall of their hip replacement systems after studies found that many patients who received these hip implants suffered from symptoms including pain, swelling, and difficulty walking, and had to undergo a revision surgery to correct painful issues with the implants.
Flaws in the design of the product were responsible for the painful and debilitating symptoms in the hip implant systems. Problems with the device occur either when the implant becomes loosened from the bone, or when the implant becomes dislocated or fractured, causing ball and socket components in the implant rub against each other and become damaged over time. When this occurs, metal particles are released into the bloodstream and some patients may suffer a reaction to the particles, causing fluid build-up around muscles and joints. The resulting accumulation can lead to swelling, pain, and may damages nerves, muscles, joints and bones in the area of the hip implant.
According to the New York Times‘ report, in an eight-year period, more than 93,000 patients worldwide received the defective model – approximately one-third of them in this country. Moreover, according to the DePuy Orthopaedics website, one in eight patients who received the defective hip replacement product needed a second surgery.
Illinois product liability law holds manufacturers of products liability for the goods they produce and distribute to the public. Companies are responsible for testing their merchandise prior to putting it the market for public use, and ensuring that the goods are safe for consumer use. When customers put their trust in the hands of companies who manufacture medical devices and supplies, they have the right to expect a safe, effective product that won’t leave them worse off from its use.
Chicago product liability lawsuits can be brought against medical device manufacturers such as DePuy Orthopaedics for their negligence in designing a defective product. If you or a loved one received a DePuy ASR System hip implant and underwent further surgery, or if other injuries or medical complications arose, you may be able to seek compensation for pain, suffering, lost wages and medical expenses. Contact an attorney to be apprised of your rights under the law.