November 21, 2013 | By Anabela Farrica
Johnson & Johnson agreed on Tuesday to pay at $2.47 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits that arose over its DePuy unit’s artificial hip implants. The company will pay around $250.000 to each patient of the about 8,000 who had to undergo surgery to remove a defective implant as of August 31st 2013, plus related medical expenses- meaning the deal could very well cost nearly $4 billion to J&J. Payments will be inversely proportional to the time the patient dealt with the implant before its removal.
The settlement was proposed to a federal judge in Ohio and it has to be approved by at least 94% of the eligible claimants before going forward. It is not possible to predict the final outcome at this point, since some patients might decide to advance for individual lawsuits.
The device in question, known as the Articular Surface Replacement (ASR), is one of the most flawed medical devices sold in recent year. Artificial hips last around 15 years or more before requiring replacement. J&J’s DePuy Orthopaedics division recalled the ASR in 2010 due to its abnormally increasing failure rates. The ASR had a metal ball and a metal cup which shed with use, originating particles that damaged tissue and caused serious injuries in some patients.
About 4,000 patients involved in this process are not eligible for compensation according to the terms of the proposed settlement, since they have not undergone a replacement procedure. According to the lawyers, an additional agreement might have to be made with these patients when their device, too, fails.
This settlement is J&J’s second multibillion-dollar legal agreement in just a month’s time. On November 4, the world’s largest seller of healthcare products agreed to pay $2.2 billion to put an end to criminal and civil probers regarding Risperdal and several other medicines.