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On this episode of Drugwatch Podcast, hip implant lawyer G. Sean Jez of Fleming, Nolen and Jez joined me by telephone from his office in Houston. Jez earned his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center in 1996 and spent many years representing consumers.
Currently, Jez is handling cases involving defective metal-on-metal hip implants. He talked to me about health complications and lawsuits against the manufacturers of these implants.
Complications from Metal-on-Metal Implants
According to Jez, metal-on-metal implants – those that have a metal cup and ball – have a higher failure rate than implants made of plastic or ceramic and metal. People with these implants may suffer complications when the metal ball rubs against the metal cup or shell, both made from chromium and cobalt.
These problems can range from severe pain to bone and tissue death.
“Chromium and cobalt that sheds from the implant becomes lodged in the surrounding tissue, and over time that can get worse and worse. There’s a whole host of problems that can happen,” Jez said. “You can have localized tissue damage where the tissue becomes gray and damaged, it can die – become necrotic – it can get into the bone and cause that to die at some point.”
Other complications Jez’s clients have suffered include:
- Pseudotumors. These are non-malignant pockets of fluid that develop around the joint and cause pain.
- High levels of metal in the blood. Cobalt and chromium particles from the hip implant can travel in the blood stream and may cause other health problems.
- Metal sensitivity. Localized tissue reactions to the metal can cause the implant to fail.
- Metallosis. Metallosis is a type of metal poisoning and can cause organ damage.
While most implants fail at a rate of about 5 percent at the 5-year mark, some implants like the DePuy ASR have a failure rate as high as 45 percent, according to Jez.
Hip Implant Lawsuits and Settlements
There are currently several manufacturers of hip implants involved in massive multidistrict litigations. These companies and the problematic implants in question include:
There are thousands of lawsuits pending against these manufacturers in state and federal courts.
Johnson & Johnson, DePuy’s parent company, lost its first trial in California and a jury found the company guilty of negligence. The jury awarded $8.3 million to Loren Kransky after his DePuy ASR hip implant failed and caused him crippling injuries.
Now, the pharmaceutical giant is offering $2.5 billion to settle thousands of DePuy ASR hip implant lawsuits. The company faces 12,000 lawsuits for the DePuy ASR and thousands more for the Pinnacle hip implant.
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