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Shezad Malik MD JD
Shezad Malik MD JD
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DePuy Pinnacle Hip Trial Back on Track

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Hot on the heels of a record jury verdict for a consolidated group of DePuy Pinnacle hip injury claims, the defense filed an appeal to 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to prevent the next set of hip trials set for September.

Hip Injury Lawsuits

Metal on metal hip implants have a high failure rate including those manufactured by Biomet, DePuy, Encore, Smith & Nephew, Stryker, Wright and Zimmer.

Now comes word, that the 5th Circuit federal court denied the petition by defendants, Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopedics, Inc., to grant an expedited appeal and to stop the next round of bellwether trials in the Pinnacle multidistrict litigation (MDL), which are currently scheduled to begin in late September 2016.

Johnson & Johnson DePuy Pinnacle $502 Million Verdict

Earlier this year, a Texas jury slammed Johnson & Johnson over its failed Pinnacle hip implants, awarding $500 million. The DePuy Pinnacle hip implant is a metal-on-metal implant system that fails prematurely, releasing particles of metal into surrounding tissue leading to inflammation and infection.

U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade has chopped the $500 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson and its DePuy unit over its defective metal-on-metal Pinnacle hip implants to about $151 million.

According to Judge Ed Kinkeade, he was forced to reduce the verdict under Texas state law limiting punitive damages. DePuy won the first bellwether trial two years ago, in October 2014.

Hip Failures: Tip of the Iceberg

According to orthopedic experts, we have only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to painful revisions for failing metal on metal hip implants. Unfortunately, patients were sold a bill of goods from the orthopedic device manufacturers and the orthopedic doctors who peddled their costly implants.

In total hip replacement and hip resurfacing, particle debris from the cup and ball surfaces can cause implant failure. As the implant patient moves, the surfaces of these two components grind against each other. The friction and abrasive wear and tear leads to debris production.

Different hip implant materials can cause different long-term complications. Metal-on-metal hip implants, where both the femoral component and the cup are made of metal, will create ionized metal debris, leading to metallosis. Device makers make implants out of several metals, including cobalt, chromium, titanium, nickel and molybdenum.

Metal-on-plastic implants, made of a metal femoral component and a plastic cup, lead to polyethylene particles that causes osteolysis or hip bone loss. Metal on metal hip implants have a high failure rate including those manufactured by Biomet, DePuy, Encore, Smith & Nephew, Stryker, Wright and Zimmer.

J&J DePuy Hip Implant Failures

Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopaedics subsidiary continues to face thousands of lawsuits over their defective metal-on-metal Pinnacle hip replacement. According to the latest court data from July 15, 2016, there are more than 8,000 federal product liability lawsuits that have been filed by folks who experienced severe and serious side effects with the artificial hip implant.

DePuy 2010 ASR Hip Recall

DePuy has an abysmal track record of early hip implant failures stretching back more than 10 years. DePuy’s 2010 recall involved the company’s Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) Acetabular Hip System and ASR Hip Resurfacing System. Like other hip devices with metal components, they were marketed as cutting-edge designs that offered better durability and more mobility than older devices.

DePuy recalled its hip systems after data from the U.K. joint registry revealed that metal devices are no more durable than older devices and had more side effects including a much higher failure rate at 5 years. In 2013, the jury in the first ASR trial found that at the time of the recall, DePuy knew that within five years, more than 40 percent of its ASR implants would fail.

Federal DePuy Pinnacle Multidistrict Litigation

Since 2011 all federal DePuy Pinnacle cases has been consolidated and centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, as part of an MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation.

DePuy Pinnacle Hip Problems

The jury found that DePuy took a number of short cuts getting the Pinnacle hip implants on the market, in part due to the 510(k) approval process, which only requires a device be substantially equivalent to devices already in use.

The company did not seek premarket approval, and so avoided the FDA requirement to determine if a device is safe or effective. There were no Pinnacle hip clinical trials to see if it even worked, or if it was safe to use.

The FDA released new guidance for metal-on-metal hip replacements in January 2013, indicating that doctors should only use the design if other artificial hip implants are not appropriate. The agency also determined that future metal-on-metal hip designs will be required to undergo extensive human clinical trials before they will be approved.