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Will the DePuy Pinnacle Bring the Next Wave of Lawsuits?

July 21, 2011, 10:30:00AM. By ; Source: click here

Denver, CO: Johnson & Johnson, maker of the DePuy Pinnacle hip device, is no stranger to lawsuits. After all, the DePuy Orthopaedics ASR hip replacement devices have resulted in a wave of lawsuits against DePuy’s parent company, Johnson & Johnson. Whether the DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement will result in a similar wave of litigation against the device maker remains to be seen, although there are some similarities between the DePuy Pinnacle and the DePuy ASR devices.

Will the DePuy Pinnacle Bring the Next Wave of Lawsuits?According to The Wall Street Journal (07/08/11), Johnson & Johnson faces approximately 1,000 lawsuits related to its metal-on-metal hip replacement devices. Both the ASR and the Pinnacle are metal-on-metal devices. The ASR devices were recalled following reports of high failure rates in the devices. The Pinnacle has not been recalled.

DePuy has defended itself, saying that a report from Britain that showed a high failure rate was the first sign that there was a problem with the metal-on-metal hip device. When DePuy knew about the high failure rate of its ASR devices will be a key issue in litigation concerning the ASR. Some lawsuits allege DePuy knew in 2007, approximately two years before the device was recalled, about the high failure rate associated with the ASR.

In addition to failure of the hip device—which can result in revision surgery to replace the faulty hip device—some patients say they have developed high levels of cobalt and chromium in their bloodstream, possibly a side effect of metal debris coming loose from the hip replacement device.

Some lawsuits have been filed against DePuy concerning the Pinnacle, although those lawsuits reportedly number in the dozens, not in the thousands. According to The Wall Street Journal article, similar defects have been reported in the Pinnacle as in the ASR devices. DePuy defends the Pinnacle as a safe and effective device.

According to The Street (07/08/11), Johnson & Johnson could face up to $1 billion in liability and costs linked to the DePuy ASR lawsuits. Many lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson have been consolidated in federal court. Whether or not Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopaedics will face a wave of litigation related to the Pinnacle remains to be seen.