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Will Stryker Follow Johnson & Johnson’s Lead When It Comes to Settling Metal Hip Lawsuits?

What will Happen with Stryker Metal HipsJohnson & Johnson have recently entered into an agreement with the patients who suffered from the faulty all-metal implants made by the company after a protracted court battle. This will cost the company around $3 billion.

Another company, which is going through similar court battles, is the Stryker Corporation. Prior to the recall of their failed Rejuvenate and ABG II hip implant models in July 2012, the company had sold more than 20,000 implant units. So far, more than 600 patients have filed lawsuits against the company, as they have developed problems after getting the implants fixed. These lawsuits are expected to grow in number, as more and more individuals find fault with their metal on metal hip implants.

Claims of the plaintiffs impacted by defective Stryker hips

Plaintiffs against the Stryker Corporation are looking for compensation covering the medical treatment expenditures and other financial losses incurred, as a result of the pain and suffering caused by the implants. The plaintiffs have claimed that the manufacturer of these metal on metal implants, the Stryker Corporation, misled them through false claims of durability and stability of the product.

Hundreds of patients have developed complications such as pain, swelling and disability after implant surgery with Rejuvenate or ABG II implants. Detailed medical investigations revealed that the fretting and corrosion of the prematurely failing implants was producing microscopic metal particles. These particles were then absorbed in the blood. Similarly, fretting and corrosion in these implants led to the loosening of the implants, necessitating replacement surgery.

These problems are taking place far earlier than the manufacturer claims they should. Stryker Corporation’s metal on metal implants have a failure rate higher than 13% after only five years of use, when they should be lasting around 10-15 years.

Progress in Lawsuits against Stryker

There is an option to settle a large number of lawsuits of similar nature against a single defendant by a process of unification. Keeping in mind the ever-rising number of cases against Stryker Corporation, there are some courts utilizing this option.

At the federal level, the cases have been consolidated for Multi-District Litigation in the district court of Minnesota. There are currently 395 cases on the list of the Multidistrict Litigation against Stryker Corporation, MDL 2441. Similarly, in New Jersey the cases at the state level have been consolidated for pretrial under a Multicounty Litigation process.

This consolidation process is a fast-track and efficient method of resolving such cases. The first step after consolidation is pretrial proceedings, which are underway in both the federal and the state level courts right now. The next step will be the trial of the bellwether cases. These will be selected representative trendsetting cases, chosen from the consolidated list. After the decision of these cases, the remaining plaintiffs may decide to proceed further with the case or agree to a settlement, as per their own choice.

The Precedence of Johnson & Johnson

Stryker Corporation’s product Rejuvenate and ABG II are similar to the Johnson & Johnson DePuy products. Both companies created metal hip implants, which ultimately failed terribly. Stryker has attempted to follow suit Johnson & Johnson’s approach in their numerous litigations. Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy ASR metal hip implants have also faced hundreds of complaints. The company has been compensating and continues to compensate the many victims of their hip implants.

The Stryker Corporation is looking to settle a similar deal. Both companies have agreed to cover the medical costs incurred to correct the hip implants and any further medical treatment required as a result. The federal courts and state courts have consolidated many lawsuits against both companies. However, Johnson & Johnson have settled some lawsuits individually.

The landmark case in this battle involved a retired prison guard who was awarded $8.3 million in compensation. This was one of the first of many lawsuits the company would be filing. Not all patients have been so lucky. A registered nurse lost her lawsuit against the company. Although many of the recipients of the DePuy model have or will most likely win their case against the company, the battle is far from over.

Turning a Blind Eye

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a very lenient law regarding the approval of any new transplant devices. This law has come under fire since the increasing failure rates of metal hip implants of various companies. The law states that any new hip implant device can be approved if it is similar to an already approved device currently available on the market. As the metal on metal devices made by various manufacturers are inherently similar, companies get the approval without any stringent checks.

In the USA, no record of the implants is maintained, unlike other countries like the UK and Australia. In these countries, health care organizations can monitor the efficacy of the implants over time. As per their records, every eighth DePuy metal on metal implant has failed. In the last decade, around 750,000 people have had metal on metal hip implants installed in the USA alone. Due to the lack of monitoring of these products, before and after they were sold, thousands of those recipients are experiencing phenomenal pains, which should not have occurred.

The Consumer Union of the USA has demanded much stricter approval process for all implant devices. They have also demanded the manufacturers provide the patients a guaranteed warranty. If these products are failing prematurely, it is the company’s duty to cover all medical costs and any other patient related costs. This has been decided in the hopes that this deters companies from releasing products, which they have not fully tested themselves or that may have possible side effects they do not mention.

Actions taken by Stryker

In July 2013, the Stryker Corporation recalled the metal on metal hip implant models Rejuvenate and ABG II. The FDA, Food and Drugs Administration USA forced the decision on Stryker, when they received a large number of complaints against the product. The company has stopped manufacturing and distributing these products worldwide. For patients who are currently using the products, Stryker urges them to seek medical attention right away and have a checkup performed to revalue their health.

The company has proposed a reimbursement procedure similar to the one undertaken by Johnson & Johnson. It seems the company will be following in the steps of the medical product giant, if they want to preserve an iota of their accountability and reputation.

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