Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay about $1bn (€893m) to resolve most lawsuits claiming it sold defective metal-on-metal hips that had to be removed, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
With the agreement, J&J has now resolved more than 95% of the 6,000 cases in which surgeons extracted the Pinnacle implants because of defects that left patients unable to walk and in pain.
The roughly $1bn total includes an earlier settlement for more than $400m. Still pending are about 4,500 suits by patients with artificial hips that aren’t made totally of metal or haven’t been surgically removed, said the sources.
It is unclear how many, if any, of those cases will be settled. Rather than set up a global settlement programme, attorneys for J&J and its DePuy unit, maker of the Pinnacle hip replacements, cut separate deals with plaintiffs’ lawyers to resolve their clients’ cases.
It’s unclear when all the hip suits will be disposed of, they said. A J&J spokeswoman said that settlement negotiations for the Pinnacle cases are continuing and that the world’s largest maker of healthcare products had set aside funds for the litigation.
While the settlements wrap up more than four years of high-profile litigation, J&J is still grappling with other legal problems, including a wave of cases targeting its baby powder for allegedly causing cancer and other suits alleging it took a ‘kingpin’ role in the opioid-painkiller epidemic. J&J faces a May trial in Oklahoma over the state’s allegations it helped fuel a surge of overdoses there.
The hip settlements came after Texas juries over the last three years ordered J&J to pay over $1.5bn to Pinnacle hip patients who accused the company of misleading them about the devices’ health risks and durability. Some of the awards were cut and others were thrown out on appeal.
Mark Lanier, one of the plaintiff’s lawyers leading the litigation, originally announced the latest settlement deal in February, as J&J prepared to face claims in federal court in Dallas by five Pinnacle hip patients who blamed the devices for their injuries, including metal poisoning. At the time, Lanier declined to reveal the settlements’ financial details. The company said 99.2% of the metal-on-metal hips held up for three years. European health regulators put the rate at around 7%.
Although J&J has agreed to resolve the cases involving surgical removal, it isn’t paying to settle cases brought by patients worried they might need hip surgery in the future, said the sources.