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DePuy Hip Replacement Recall Follows Doctor Kickback Scandal

DePuy Orhopaedic’s recent ASR hip replacement recall is neither the first nor the most recent bad press for the company. A new study published in September reveals that DePuy made undisclosed payments to doctors who published articles about the medical device manufacturer’s products. And just over three years ago, DePuy was fined for its involvement in a doctor kickback scandal.

In September 2007 DePuy, along with Biomet Orthopedics, Smith & Nephew, Stryker, and Zimmer Holdings, paid a combined $310 million after an investigation by the United States Justice Department revealed that the five companies paid large sums of money to orthopedic surgeons in exchange for consulting and agreeing to use the companies’ products exclusively. These relationships were not disclosed to patients and hospitals.

DePuy paid $84.7 million, an amount determined by its market share at the time. The five companies together provide nearly all (95%) of the replacement hips and knees used in the United States. Individual payments to doctors were as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars, and also included trips.

Depuy images

The fines are the end result of a Justice Department investigation that began in 2005. As part of the settlement, the companies must also require doctors with whom they have consulting agreements to share the terms of the deal on the company’s Web site. According to DePuy’s Web site, the company paid more than $50 million to consultants in 2009.

DePuy admitted no fault in response to the investigation and issued the following statement: “Surgeon consultants are important sources of innovation for medical technology manufacturers, and they are integral to the training of peers on the use of new technology. The collaboration between government and industry will result in greater transparency in relationships between industry and surgeon consultants.”

This transparency is vital for protecting patient well-being. “This will empower patients over the long term to ensure their health care decisions are being made in a medically responsible way without any influence of economic coercion,” said Christopher J. Christie, the U.S. attorney for New Jersey.

The most recent problems for DePuy stem from its recall of more than 90,000 ASR XL Acetabular and ASR Hip Resurfacing Systems. The recall was issued in light of new information from The National Joint Registry for England and Wales that shows the ASR hip implant devices have a five-year revision rate of more than 12 percent, which is double the industry average. As a result, many patients have required a second hip replacement surgery and are now taking legal action against DePuy, seeking compensation for monetary losses as well as pain and suffering.

 

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