Several additional Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) executives were deposed for questioning in the ongoing lawsuits regarding subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics’ ASR metal-on-metal implants.
Set to take place in February and March, the new depositions may reveal more information about the controversial implants, implicated in patient injury lawsuits alleging that DePuy knowingly sold a defective product.
Those newly deposed include a J&J senior engineering fellow, director of strategic outcomes, VP or worldwide regulatory affairs and VP of worldwide clinical affairs, according to a press release.
A deposition, also known as an examination before trial, occurs any time someone answers an attorney’s questions under oath, usually outside the courtroom. The process allows opposing lawyers to collect testimony from a witness in preparation for a case and the information can be used at trial.
Sally Hunter, worldwide VP of clinical affairs and one of the J&J executives recently deposed, was quoted in the New York Times last March, citing declining sales as the reason the company began phasing out its ASR hip replacement implants. By then years of data had already begun to suggest that the implants had a high early failure rate.
The company launched a voluntary recall of the ASR devices 5 months later, acknowledging unusually high rates of revision surgery needed within 5 years of implant for the metal-on-metal implants, rates that weren’t previously seen in post-market evaluations. By then about 83,000 people had already received with the device.
Lawsuits had already begun piling up, gaining momentum after the recall announcement and consolidating into a multi-district case under an Ohio federal court judge by Dec. 2010.
That could add up to a big nut for J&J to swallow, based on the experience of Sulzer Medica AG in 2001. The Swiss medical device maker’s recall of a hip implant, placed in about 31,000 patients, settled in 2002 for $1 billion (about 2,760 patients had revision surgeries attributed to that recall, according to Reuters). The DePuy ASR recall is three times the size of the Sulzer pullback.