Medical device company, DePuy Synthes is a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary which is focused on products for joint reconstruction, craniomaxillofacial and spina surgery and sports medicine. Separately from parent J&J, DePuy is one of the top orthopedics company in the world and has estimated revenue of nearly $9 billion.

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  • DePuy Synthes Overview
  • DePuy History
  • DePuy Legal Troubles
  • DePuy Hip Implant Lawsuits
  • DePuy Knee Replacements

DePuy Synthes Overview

DePuy Synthes is an orthopedics company which is a subsidiary of healthcare giant, Johnson & Johnson. The company is a leading designer, manufacturer, and distributor of medical devices and supplies, mainly focused on orthopedic devices.

DePuy is the world’s oldest manufacturer of orthopedics devices and remains one of the largest, with estimated 2018 revenue of $8.8 billion, making the company, the second largest orthopedics manufacturer in the world.

While a number of DePuy products have been successful, the company faces consumer complaints from patients who received ASR and Pinnacle hip replacements. More than 10,000 lawsuits have been filed against DePuy regarding injuries sustained from these devices. A number of these federal claims were consolidated into multidistrict litigations. Additionally, controversy surrounds complications that have resulted from DePuy’s high-flex knee devices.

DePuy History

DePuy was originally founded by a traveling pharmaceuticals salesman named Revra DePuy in Warsaw, Indiana in 1895 as DePuy Manufacturing. DePuy’s first product was a fiber splint used for setting broken bones. This splint was a revolutionary product which came to replace wooden barrel staves that had been commonly used. The company increased their product line to include wire cloth splints and hired a number of employees, including Justin Zimmer, who would later go on to form his own company which is still a competitor of DePuy today.

DePuy remained focused on splints, until Revra DePuy’s death in 1921 but as technology developed, focus of the company shifted to development of artificial joints, surgical spine correction and other innovations. DePuy has maintained its position as a first ranked orthopedics company and was the “first” in a number of areas. DePuy created the first mobile bearing knee system and a cementless coating for joint implants.

In 1998, manufacturing giant Johnson & Johnson acquired DePuy and in 2011, added to the company with Synthes, Inc to form DePuy Synthes. DePuy now operates in several countries, such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, and Australia under the Johnson & Johnson umbrella organization. The DePuy Synthes portfolio features nearly orthopedic and surgical products.

Most of DePuy’s revenues are from the manufacture and distribution of hip and knee joint replacement implants, environmental protection products, and surgical equipment.

DePuy Legal Troubles

Despite its history as a highly successful, progressive company which has introduced a number of “firsts” into the orthopedics industry, DePuy has also had problems with their products. Some of these issues have led to serious patient injuries, product recalls, and lawsuits, particularly knee and hip replacement lawsuits.

DePuy Hip Implant Lawsuits

The DePuy ASR (Articular Surface Replacement) Hip Resurfacing System and the ASR XL Acetabular System total hip replacement were recalled in August of 2010 by DePuy Orthopaedics and the company also discontinued the all-metal models of the Pinnacle hip devices. DePuy had received numerous reports regarding patients who experienced pain and other serious side effects from DePuy hip replacement devices.

DePuy has been the focus of thousands of medical injury lawsuits involving substantial problems with the ASR and Pinnacle hip implants. Thousands of patients experienced problems with pain and swelling. Some implants caused severe nerve, muscle, and bone damage due to joint destruction. Blood poisoning has also been reported, due to the material from the metal-on-metal implants.

Thousands of ASR hip lawsuits were settled in 2013 for a total cost of $4 billion, and about 6,000 Pinnacle hip lawsuits were settled for about $1 billion. Due to the expected lifespan of a joint replacement device, about 11,000 lawsuits may still be pending and have yet to be settled and more may be expected.

DePuy Knee Replacements

Like the DePuy hip device troubles, DePuy has also experienced difficulties with some of its knee devices. Hundreds of patients have needed replacement for the Attune Knee system devices.

The DePuy Attune knee replacement device was designed to improve stability and range of motion while reducing implant wear. Unfortunately, the device has not been successful for all of the patients who receive it and hundreds of people have been required to undergo revision surgery.

DePuy recalled Attune Knee Tibial Articulation Surface Instruments due to defects in the surgical kits, however this is not the problem that has resulted in device failure for hundreds of patients.

Some side effects from knee replacement surgery:

  • Loosening or instability of implant
  • Change in position of device components
  • Tibial subsidence (when an implant sinks into the soft bone tissue of the tibia)
  • Bends, breaks, or other deformities of the implant
  • Infection

DePuy began seeing the first Attune Knee lawsuits in 2017 and more continue to be filed. No dispositions have been announced.

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