Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Hip Implant Recall Is Raising More Eyebrows

A year ago this month, Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., issued the worldwide recall of its metal-on-metal hip replacement devices – the ASR XL Acetabular and ASR Hip Resurfacing Systems, a recall affecting more than 93,000 patients who have been left with defective implants.  With research now suggesting a 49% revision rate at 6 years, it seems DePuy would want to keep a low profile, right?

Think again.

An August 21, 2011 report by Reuters has raised eyebrows about what many are calling a controversial approach to managing the recall of its ASR hip replacement system.  DePuy’s “unusual” move in paying a third-party to review patients’ medical records and determining whether injuries are sufficient to warrant the company covering the cost for replacement surgery and other out-of-pocket medical expenses, has critics skeptical of the Company’s true intent.

Because DePuy has outsourced this matter to Broadspire Services, Inc., a third-party claims contractor, it will be Broadspire’s physicians, not the patients’ own doctors, who will determine whether the medical treatment a DePuy hip implant recipient receives, including the necessity of a revision surgery, is warranted and the costs covered by DePuy.

Industry and legal experts are expressing concern with the Company’s approach.  Particularly troubling is that the process of having a third-party handle the management of the recall enables DePuy to obtain patients’ medical records and other information that can be used against patients to their detriment creating a serious conflict of interest.

When the recall was first announced, DePuy wrote to orthopaedic surgeons asking them to send their patients a package of information about the recall.  It contained a form “doctor-to-patient” letter written by DePuy, asking the patient to make an appointment to discuss any concerns and to bring with them a signed medical release giving the doctor permission to share their medical records with DePuy.  For their efforts, DePuy offered to pay doctors $50 for each completed sets of forms.  Legal experts are calling this an outrageous and highly unethical tactic by the Company.

Sadly, however, this comes as no surprise to many, citing this as Johnson & Johnson and DePuy’s way of limiting its liability by denying claims, limiting claim payouts, and/or stalling until the statute of limitations has expired barring the right to bring a lawsuit.

Facing more than 2,000 lawsuits in State and Federal Courts across the nation related to the recall, Johnson & Johnson is said to have incurred costs in excess of $400 million associated with the ASR recall through the second quarter of this year.  Experts speculate the ultimate cost to Johnson & Johnson could run to the billions of dollars.

If you or a loved one have been affected by DePuy’s ASR hip implant recall, don’t try to handle this alone – seek the advice of our experienced legal experts at Pope McGlamry.

Disclaimer:  All use of the ASR mark is for informational and product identification purposes only.  This post should not be taken as either medical or legal advice, but instead should act as a resource in providing general information that may be useful to the general public.  Pope McGlamry is not affiliated with DePuy Orthopaedics, Johnson & Johnson or their distributors.