Over 5,000 pending lawsuits against the Big Pharma company, Johnson & Johnson, are set to begin in September of this year. The multidistrict litigation (MDL) was filed because of injuries caused by Johnson & Johnson’s defective line of hip implants, DePuy Pinnacle.
DePuy Pinnacle hip implants were suspended from installation in patients by August of 2013, and the company will phase out the sale of its metal-on-metal hip products because of a proposal put forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The proposal, released by the FDA, requires metal hip makers to “submit new products for premarket approval.”
“Companies like Johnson & Johnson, which owns DePuy, have been placing dangerous products on the market knowing full and well of the danger they pose to patients,” said Daniel Nigh, an hip implants attorney with the Levin, Papantonio law firm who practices in the areas of personal injury and bad drug and defective medical device litigation. “These companies are now beginning to pay the price for the malfeasance.”
The Northern District of Texas has consolidated the cases into an MDL regarding the DePuy Pinnacle hip implants in relations to several defective product claims. The litigations are still in the discovery phase and DePuy has yet to issue a recall of Pinnacle hip implants.
Many of the lawsuits allege that DePuy Pinnacle hip implants sheds metal debris inside of the body and is released into the bloodstream, causing swelling, general pain, and metallosis (metal poisoning). Metallosis causes a number health complications including; general infection, thyroid problems, cognitive impairment, and cardiomyopathy, which can lead to heart failure.
Patients with these metal-on-metal hip implants have a higher rate of DNA damage to blood lymphocytes, causing irreversible DNA changes. This damage poses a threat to the functions of the placenta in pregnant women. Individuals with the device can also experience a threat to the blood-brain barrier, the fluid around the brain that protects it from dangerous toxins, by undermining the barrier’s protective properties. Those with metal-on-metal hip implants also pose an increased risk of developing prostate cancer and melanomas.
DePuy hip implants were approved by the FDA by way of the 501(k) approval process, which is essentially a rubber-stamp approval without any in-depth research of the product’s potential harm to patients. And if one product is rubber stamped, that approval is applicable to other similar products. The process has received much criticism from medical journals and trial attorneys.