In 2010, DePuy Orthopedics, a division of Johnson & Johnson, issued a voluntary recall of two of their hip replacement systems, after studies found that many patients who received these DePuy 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. Moreover, according to the DePuy Orthopedics website, one in eight patients who received the defective hip replacement product, needed a second surgery.
But, despite the fact that their product was dangerous, healthcare-products giant Johnson & Johnson continued to market the artificial hip overseas after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rejected its sale in the United States based on a review of company safety studies, reported the New York Times. In 2009, the FDA alerted Johnson & Johnson 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 in this country, and, after the U.S. recall, continued sales in other countries.
Johnson & Johnson is an American pharmaceutical and cosmetic conglomerate that disseminates packaged goods across more than 175 countries. DePuy Orthopedics is the division 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.
Although Johnson & Johnson’s international sales of the defective device don’t amount to breaking the law per se, Johnson & Johnsons’ practices speak volumes about their willingness to take responsibility for their actions, despite knowing the potential dangers caused by their products.
Flaws in the design of the product are responsible for painful and debilitating symptoms occurring in patients who have these 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.
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 Orthopedics 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.