(NaturalNews) The skeletons just keep on coming out of the closet for pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J), which is currently being sued by tens of thousands of hip replacement patients for knowingly selling a faulty hip implant device that generates loose metal shards and poisons patients' bloodstreams. According to recently-uncovered internal documents, J&J knew about the defective device for many years, but continued to deceptively market it across the globe as safe and effective.
As reported by The New York Times (NYT), the device in question, known as an Articular Surface Replacement (ASR), was first introduced back in the early 2000s as an alternative to traditional hip implant devices. Its design was supposed to overcome deficiencies inherent in previous models that were made from metal and plastic parts. But a major design flaw in the ASR caused the device's supposedly innovative ball mechanism to grind against the inside cup, which in turn caused it to release metallic debris inside the bodies of many patients who received the implant.
Just a few years after its release by J&J's DePuy Orthopaedics unit, internal tests conducted by company engineers revealed that the device was a complete failure, and that it was unsuitable for continued use. But rather than address the issue and recall the device, J&J continued to market the faulty ASR to surgeons across the country for at least another three years, even as thousands of these same physicians were rejecting the device in favor of safer and more durable alternatives.
"The ASR represents one of the biggest medical device failures in recent decades," writes Barry Meier for NYT about the fiasco. "According to DePuy's internal estimates, it is projected to fail within five years in about 40 percent of patients who received one. That is eight times the failure rate of most orthopedic implants."
J&J eventually issued a recall on the ASR in 2010, but nearly 100,000 patients worldwide had already received the device, and many of these patients are now suing the company for fraud. J&J also failed to admit there was anything wrong with the device during the recall, insisting instead that "poor sales" were responsible for its discontinuation. However, internal records have now revealed that DePuy executives, including company president Andrew Ekdahl, were fully aware of the dangers associated with the ASR and yet did nothing about them.
Patients injured as a result of the faulty implant are being represented by the national law firm Parker Walchman LLP. Both the standard ASR and the resurfacing ASR manufactured by J&J DePuy are included in the lawsuit.