J&J Executives Concealed Device Flaw; Court Documents Reveal

By on February 1, 2013

As reported by the New York Times, Johnson & Johnson management were aware of a dangerous design imperfection years before they removed from market a defective artificial hip in 2010, internal documents revealed in court.  Documents also showed that the company hid this news from doctors and patients.

The company had received grievances from physicians about the implant, the Articular Surface Replacement, or A.S.R., even as it began selling a version of it in the United States in 2005.  The A.S.R.’s defect caused it to discard large amounts of metallic fragments after installation and the model did not work effectively in a trial in 2007 where engineers contrasted its performance to a similar hip implant made by the company, the documents revealed.

However, executives in Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopaedics unit continued to sell the A.S.R. even as it was being deserted by doctors who worked as advisors to the company, the New York Times said.   DePuy employees talked about methods to alleviate the flaw but no resolution was ever put in place.

Lawyers spearheading several legal actions against Johnson & Johnson revealed the documents in Los Angeles Superior Court during initial arguments in the first A.S.R.-related lawsuit to go to trial.  More than 10,000 lawsuits were filed against Johnson & Johnson in the United States by patients who had been given the defective hip implant.  An estimated 93,000 individuals around the world got an A.S.R., about one-third of them in the United States.