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Company Knew About High Failure Rate For Hip Implant

More information is coming to light concerning the hip implants recalled by Johnson & Johnson's DePuy Orthopaedics division. According to Johnson & Johnson's internal documentation, the metal hip implants known as Articular Surface Replacement, or A.S.R., fail at a rate of almost 40 percent within the first five years after they are implanted. The company conducted that analysis shortly after it recalled the devices, but it never released the projection publicly. The spate of lawsuits concerning the defective medical product led to the release of this information.

The hip implants in question were one of several that were made entirely of metal. Such devices have fallen out of favor now because of the tendency to grind together and produce metal fragments. Those fragments cause damage to the surrounding tissue and bone, forcing recipients to have further surgery to remove and replace the devices.

Nearly 93,000 patients worldwide received A.S.R. hip implants before the device was recalled. Of those, approximately one-third occurred in the United States. The recall began in 2010, so many more patients are still likely to suffer through the failure of their hip implants in the next several years. DePuy is attempting to soften the blow by offering to pay patients for the cost of a replacement procedure. Still, the need for additional surgery and the damage done by the defective implants comes with significant pain and hardship for those affected.

Source: The New York Times, "Maker Aware of 40% Failure in Hip Implant," by Barry Meier, 22 January 2013

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