Healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) confirmed today that it agreed to a $2.5 billion settlement to close the books on one of the multi-patient lawsuits over recalled metal-on-metal hip implants made by subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics.
The company confirmed rumors circulating earlier in the day that the company would pay out $250,000 apiece to about 8,000 patients participating in the settlement program.
"The U.S. settlement program provides compensation for eligible patients without the delay and uncertainty of protracted litigation," DePuy Synthes joint reconstruction world president Andrew Ekdahl said in prepared remarks. "We are committed to the well-being of ASR patients, as demonstrated by the voluntary recall and the program providing support for recall-related care."
The settlement closes a major chapter, but the story is far from over. There remain some 4,000 other lawsuits over the metal-on-metal hip replacement systems and patient advocacy groups want more than compensation; they want tighter oversight of the medical device industry.
"The horrendous injuries suffered by tens of thousands of metal hip implant patients are a terrible reminder of how current oversight of the medical device industry fails to protect the public," Lisa McGiffert, manager of Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project, said in an emailed statement. "Patients shouldn’t serve as unwitting experimental subjects for medical implants that haven’t been thoroughly tested by industry for safety and effectiveness."
The advocacy group called for stricter safety testing and more robust protections for patients, demands that they’ve made in the past. Earlier this year Consumers Union urged device makers to offer 20-year warranties on knee and hip implants and to offer no-cost revisions, issuing a series of letters to all the big names in orthopedics, including Smith & Nephew (FTSE:SN, NYSE:SNN), Biomet and Stryker (NYSE:SYK) in addition to DePuy.
The new settlement isn’t the 1st in the hip lawsuits, and it won’t be the last. The 1st trial over the DePuy ASR implant settled in August 2012 before it could go to trial. In March, a jury awarded another plaintiff, Loren Kransky, $8.3 million after deciding that the device was defectively designed (California Judge J. Stephen Czuleger rejected DePuy’s request for a new trial in May). In April, an Illinois state jury found for DePuy in Carol Strum vs. DePuy Orthopaedics & Premier Orthopaedic Sales.
"DePuy will continue to defend against remaining claims and believes its actions related to the ASR Hip System have been appropriate and responsible," the company said today.