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The first trial related to the problems caused by the DePuy ASR hip replacement is underway in California, and hundreds of internal company documents are slowly becoming public as the trial proceeds. These documents show that DePuy, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, was aware for years of the ASR’s serious design flaws, but the company failed to warn doctors or patients of their findings. In fact, as early as 2007, internal tests performed by DePuy showed that the ASR hip failed at extremely high rates even compared to the company’s other hip replacement models. The company’s executives continued aggressively marketing the ASR until the eventual recall in 2010, even after their own testing showed a failure rate of 40% within 5 years. A typically acceptable failure rate for hip replacements in that 5 year timespan is 1%.
Rather than immediately warn doctors and patients of their findings, internal documents show DePuy was focused on their bottom line. One DePuy executive, Andrew Ekdahl, told a colleague in a 2008 email that “we will ultimately need a cup redesign, but the short-term action is to manage perceptions.” It seems in retrospect that their preferred method of “managing perceptions” was by concealing inconvenient facts.
As this first DePuy ASR trial continues to move forward, more damning evidence about DePuy’s failure to warn will likely continue to be made public. Recipients of the DePuy ASR hip replacement have suffered from early failure resulting in revision surgeries or the need for new hip replacements. There have also been substantial damages caused by the metal-on-metal design of the hip, which can cause metallic debris to be shaved off the ball of the hip and enter the bloodstream, causing dangerous cobalt and chromium poisoning. The New York Times has had thorough, ongoing coverage of the trial, and the quotes and statistics here come from the Times coverage. Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter are currently representing numerous DePuy ASR claims. We are following this trial closely, as the information presented in this trial is sure to have a heavy impact on the eventual resolution of thousands of DePuy ASR claims across the country. If you or a loved one has had complications from a DePuy ASR hip replacement, or any other metal-on-metal hip products, contact our firm for a free initial consultation.