When Johnson & Johnson announced a settlement to compensate victims of defective DePuy ASR Hip Systems in 2013, it was estimated that 8,000 patients would participate. The $2.5 billion settlement was open to patients who had their ASR hips replaced in a procedure known as a revision surgery by August 31, 2013. Johnson & Johnson has now agreed to expand the settlement, adding $420 million and extending the settlement offer to patients who filed claims as late as January 31, 2015. The expanded coverage could add 1,400 patients to the list of those receiving a settlement. Between the earlier settlement and this latest addition, J&J will have resolved roughly 90 percent of the claims involving hip removal procedures for defective ASR implants.
The ASR line of hip replacement implants suffered from a shocking rate of failure. J&J documents showed that 37 percent of the hip systems failed in less than 5 years. A study showed that, in Australia in 2012, 44 percent of the devices had failed by the 7 year mark. When J&J announced the recall of 93,000 of the ASR hip implants in 2010, it indicated that 12 percent failed within 5 years.
Another problem was that failure of the medical devices often led to serious problems for the patient. The metal on metal implant could fret and corrode, sending metal ions of chromium and cobalt into the blood. The degradation of the hip caused hip dislocation and tremendous pain. The devices had to be removed in an additional, painful procedure. The damage to the tissue around the joint led to further complications.
Replacement joints are not considered permanent solutions. The technology of artificial hips cannot match the performance of the original. Still, the ASR hips failure rate was anomalous. It was advertised as a design that would last for 20 years and improve the range of motion over other models. Once the device was actually put to the test, it failed to live up to even modest expectations. It was clear that whatever safety testing was done on the device was nowhere near sufficient to protect patients.
Source: Bloomberg Business, “J&J to Pay as Much as $420 Million More in ASR Hip Accord,” by Jef Feeley, 23 February 2015