Johnson & Johnson to Pay $2.5 Billion to Settle Hip Replacement Lawsuits

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Johnson & Johnson, the New Brunswick-based pharmecutical giant, will pay $2.5 billion in lawsuit settlements related to complaints about one of the company's hip replacement implants. 

The product, known as Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) was sold to nearly 35,000 people in the United States, and 90,00 people worldwide over the course of eight years.  But as many as 8,000 patients have sought the product to be removed or replaced.

ASR is different from other hip-replacement devices in that it was constructed entirely of metal.  Usually, hip-replacement devices include a ceramic or plastic coating.

This transition towards metal hip replacement devices was based on labratory tests which suggested higher resistance to wear, as well as a lower chance of dislocation. 

However, the cases of patients who received the implant showed the opposite effect. 

Implants which were predicted to last no less than decade have been reported to cause unbearable pain for patients within as little as three years. 

In 2011, a J&J review of the product revealed that a third of the devices failed within a five-year period. 

Production of the implant stopped in 2009, and a recall was issued the following year.

The lawsuit around the device began during the summer of 2013, and anyone who had the implant removed or replaced before August 31st will be eligible to settlement payments. 

Johnson & Johnson has been recalling many of its pharmaceutical and medical products over the past several years, while defending itself from government lawsuits and investigations.

As we reported last month, J&J agreed to pay $2.2 billion in settlements after the company was found marketing an anti-psychotic drug, Risperdal, for unapproved uses.