Hip replacements are one of the most common surgeries in the United States. Degenerative conditions and injuries can result in debilitating pain. Fortunately for thousands of patients, hip replacement surgery provides welcome relief and the ability to resume normal activity. As with all medical technology, the hip replacement industry has evolved over the years in an effort to provide increasingly effective products. In doing so, manufacturers began moving away from plastic and ceramic replacements in favor of all-metal designs, which they claimed were more flexible and durable. Unfortunately, the metal devices have been linked to incapacitating injuries, and the industry is facing lawsuits in the tens of thousands. Contact a Boston Injury Lawyer.
First Jury Award Over $8.3 Million
The first manufacturer to pull out of the all-metal business is the DePuy division of Johnson & Johnson. However, they are not likely to be the last. According to the New York Times, all other manufacturers are expected to follow as the early failure rates are staggeringly high. Johnson & Johnson alone is facing at least 13,300 lawsuits. In addition, recent awards to victims of the metal replacements have been high, with the first jury award being in excess of $8.3 million. This case was quickly decided in favor of the victim and will likely set the bar for future lawsuits. Although an industry exit is good news for future hip replacement patients, it does little to help the thousands of people already implanted with the metal design.
Is the FDA’s Antiquated Approval Process to Blame?
The FDA’s approval process for metal hip replacements may be partially to blame for the early failure rate and injuries. Hip replacements are not considered ‘essential medical devices’ and are therefore subject to a markedly less stringent approval process. Essential devices, such as artificial hearts for example, require significant tests including human testing. Metal hip replacements went to market without a single human test. Continue reading