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DePuy Pinnacle Metal-on-Metal Hip Replacement System Found at Fault in Texas Lawsuit Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay nearly a quarter-billion dollars to six injured parties in a so-called “bellwether” lawsuit. The case, in a Texas federal court, pitted the defendants against the company for Johnson & Johnson’s faulty DePuy Orthopaedics’ Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip replacement system. DePuy Orthopaedics is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. Based on a Reuters story on the case, jurors granted the victims $247 million in damages. Metal-on-metal hip replacement systems use a metallic ball and joint system, as opposed to other hip replacement systems that use ceramic components. The metal-on-metal systems fail at a much greater rate than other kinds of systems. The failures contribute to joint pain and bleeding in the hip area and can cause metallosis, an issue that happens when metals enter the blood. Most of the metal-on-metal system failures lead to corrective surgery. Hip replacement surgeries have gone through the roof in recent years, with upward of 300,000 such surgeries being performed in the United States yearly. The condition known as osteoarthritis is a biggest cause of hip failure. According to the Reuters story, jurors saw that DePuy’s Pinnacle system had a flawed design. Jurors also determined that the companies failed to warn consumers about the risks of such systems. The story noted that nearly 10,000 lawsuits have been filed in the United States against Johnson & Johnson for use of the DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement system. The combined trial is another in a group of “bellwether” trials concerning the DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip replacement system. The purpose of the trials is to assist the trial judge decide if similar cases should go forward and provide the defendants a sense of their future liability. The Texas suit was the fourth “bellwether” trial with regards to the DePuy Pinnacle system. The defendants won one trial, but plaintiffs have won the last three - two in Texas and one in California. Up to now, Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages to victims of the defective hip replacement systems. --written by Rick Fahr.
Metal-on-metal hip replacement systems have been known to cause various problems — including painful revision surgeries and the accompanying physical rehabilitation — but researchers have recently discovered a potentially new and devastating side effects — a link between metal-on-metal hip replacement systems and dementia and heart disease. According to a story published by the Daily Mail in London, Great Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory AgencyBritain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency recently notified the public that patients who have had metal-on-metal hip replacement systems implanted will be “called in” for X-rays and blood testing to determine if the heavy metals in the systems are causing any “adverse reactions.” The medical personnel will be trying to determine chromium and cobalt levels in the patient’s blood. Those two heavy metals have been linked to both dementia and heart disease. Metal-on-metal hip replacement systems, such as Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopaedics Pinnacle system, use a metallic ball joint to replace the hip. Other systems use ceramics, plastics or other materials. The problems associated with metal-on-metal hip replacement systems stem from wear on the joint. That wear may cause the system to fail entirely at much higher rates than hip replacement systems made of other materials, which leads to surgery to fix the system. Additionally, the metal shavings can lead to irritation at the implant site and to the metals entering the blood system, a condition known as metallosis . Hip replacement surgeries have become popular in the United States, with surgeons performing upward of 300,000 such operations each year. Several thousand lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson for its metal-on-metal hip replacement system failures. DePuy’s Pinnacle system has had a particularly long string of issues, starting with its design and production. Testimony in trials in the United States and abroad has revealed that the Pinnacle systems were not correctly manufactured and that a design flaw led to a higher-than-normal failure rate. Johnson & Johnson no longer sells the Pinnacle system, but tens of thousands of people have had it implanted. Regarding the Great Britain cases, the Daily Mail story quoted Dr. Neil McGuire, clinical director of medical devices for the regulatory agency as saying that prudence mandates checking the overall health of patients to ensure that the hip replacements aren’t causing other problems. “We’re always balancing depriving people of the benefits of these devices versus protecting people from harm,” he told the newspaper. “We don't want to set a lot of hares running if there's nothing to find. It may be at the end of it we say, ‘There's nothing to see here folks.’ --authored by Rick Fahr.