Global titan Johnson & Johnson, a multinational company manufacturing pharmaceuticals and medical devices, is well accustomed to paying out money occasionally in settlements alleging product liability.
Even so, the price tag attached to a reported settlement the company has tentatively agreed to with thousands of litigants suffering from defective hip implants is likely to shock even the most seasoned J&J executive.
The cost: An approximate $4 billion outlay, stated to be one of the biggest settlements ever reached in a product liability matter focused on a medical device.
The device in question is the Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) metal-on-metal hip replacement implant made by J&J unit DePuy Orthopaedics. The reported settlement, which still awaits judicial approval, covers the claims of approximately 12,000 claimants across the country, including Ohio plaintiffs. Defense attorneys say that as many as 8,000 of those plaintiffs might have undergone so-called “revision surgery” to replace faulty ASR devices.
The average compensation will reportedly be about $350,000 for each injured person.
The ASR implant was at one time cloaked with superlatives, with company officials and many medical professionals claiming that its metal components resulted in a product superior to existing implants made of both metal and plastic.
That quickly proved to not be the case, with ASR-related complaints coming quick and often soon after the implant’s introduction of the implant in 2003. DePuy took the ASR off the market in 2010. An estimated 93,000 patients received an ASR hip replacement worldwide, with about one-third of those recipients being in the United States.
Source: New York Times, "Johnson & Johnson said to agree to $4 billion settlement over hip implants," Barry Meier, Nov. 12, 2013