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Johnson & Johnson DePuy Hip Recall Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

Q: Which DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc. hip replacement systems were recalled?

A: The DePuy ASR XL Acetabular and DePuy ASR Hip Resurfacing Systems have been recalled. In addition, the FDA recently warned Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy division to stop marketing two other hip replacement devices for unapproved uses.

Q: What is DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc.?

A: DePuy is a multinational franchise of orthopaedic and neuroscience companies that was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 1998, and which forms part of the Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices & Diagnostics Group. J&J reported more than $4.5 billion in profits in April 2010, thanks largely to increased revenue from sales of DePuy hip replacement devices, like the defective ASR artificial hip system.

Q: How long has DePuy known about the dangers of its defective ASR hip replacement systems?

A: DePuy has known since at least 2007 that its ASR artificial hip devices were defective. In some instances, DePuy even permitted defective ASR artificial hips to be replaced with another defective ASR hip replacement system.

Q: When would the surgeries involving the recalled DePuy artificial hips have occurred?

A: DePuy began manufacturing the ASR artificial hips in 2003 and they were approved for use in 2005. DePuy began phasing out the ASR hip replacement system toward the end of 2009, but it is possible that a hip replacement surgery in 2010 could have used the ASR system.

Q: Will I need to have another hip replacement surgery?

A: If you have experienced problems with your DePuy ASR artificial hip, a second surgery to replace the defective hardware is likely. In some cases, additional tests and monitoring may be necessary.

Q: Do I need a lawyer, even if DePuy has offered to pay my medical bills?

A: Yes. DePuy’s offer to customers will not pay for all of their damages and may create additional liability for victims who received defective DePuy hip replacement systems.

From DePuy’s Website (emphasis added):

DePuy intends to cover reasonable and customary costs of testing and treatment if you need services, including revision surgery if it is necessary, associated with the recall of ASR. Bills for services should first be submitted to your insurance company or payor (public or private) in the usual manner. DePuy will then reimburse you for your reasonable out of pocket expenses and your insurance company or payor (public or private) for customary and reasonable expenses related to the ASR recall.

While DePuy claims it will cover "reasonable and customary costs of monitoring and treatment," in reality DePuy’s intentions are quite the contrary. DePuy has requested that patients submit all of their bills to private health insurance (including Medicare and employer sponsored – ERISA – health insurance plans), offering only to pay the patient’s out-of-pocket co-pays and deductibles. This is an excellent deal for DePuy, but presents a number of problems for patients and tax-payers.

Under Medicare regulations and ERISA health insurance programs, the patient can be forced to reimburse (or payback) their insurer for the cost of medical treatment if they obtain a recovery from a third-party, like DePuy. DePuy may actually be creating significant legal liability exposure to its victims who received the defective artificial hip. Even if the patient is not required to pay pack all of the costs of the hip replacement, DePuy has effectively shifted the costs of its recall and defective product to the tax payers who fund Medicare and health insurance companies, resulting in greater premiums and health care costs for the rest of us.

DePuy’s offer to its victims also suggests that co-pays and deductibles are the only damages caused by this defective medical device. DePuy has not offered any compensation for lost wages, lost time from work, or the pain, suffering, worry, aggravation and risk of a second hip replacement surgery.

Finally, DePuy’s offer fails to address serious questions concerning tissue contamination by metallic cobalt and chrome ions that are released into the body by the metal-on-metal friction of the DePuy ASR artificial hip system. There is not yet a clear medical determination as to the long-term effects of this metal contamination on the body. Acceptance of DePuy’s offer may release DePuy from any future liability stemming from this metallic contamination.

[More information and coverage of the DePuy Hip Recall]

(c) Copyright 2010 Brett A. Emison

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