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Johnson & Johnson Facing More Lawsuits Over Hip Implants

Lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson for alleged defects in the company's DePuy hip implants may be the next "big tort," according to the Wall Street Journal, succeeding actions against Toyota for defective acceleration and Merck & Co. for its Vioxx arthritis drug. Almost 1,000 lawsuits have been filed against the company, alleging that it knew about defects in the hip implants before DePuy stopped making them in 2009.

Johnson & Johnson withdrew the implants from the market last year after British research revealed that showed that they required replacement at unusually high rates. Usually no more than 5 percent of hip implants require a replacement within five years. The research revealed that the five-year rates for replacing the hip parts were 12 percent and 13 percent higher. Some patients who received the implant are also reporting findings of chromium and cobalt in their blood system. They believe that these potentially toxic metals are leaking into their system from the hip implant. DePuy has confirmed that chromium and cobalt are contained in the artificial joints but has not admitted that any patient problems are due to this. It also contends that the British research was the first indication that there were any problems with the implants.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration noted in May that particles from metal-on-metal hip implants like the the Depuy model could wear off and find their way into a patient's blood system. The FDA has ordered Johnson & Johnson to closely monitor the implants for possible health risks. An estimated 37,000 patients in the United States have had the hip joint implanted. Worldwide, about 93,000 patients presently have the device. DePuy has offered to pay for all medical care required by the implant, including removal if necessary. The company has received approximately 27,000 calls for medical assistance. Plaintiffs have also complained of pain, infections, and inflammation due to the hip implants. Both J&J and DePuy have reserved almost $1 billion to cover surgeries and medical care.

If you or a relative has previously undergone hip replacement surgery with a DePuy hip implant, consult with an experienced attorney to ensure that your rights are protected.