Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What did Johnson & Johnson know about their hips and when did they know it?

According to the New York Times, a year before Johnson & Johnson's Depuy division recalled their ASR hip systems, Pamela Plouhar, vice president of Depuy Orthopedics, reported privately to top executives that the FDA was going to refuse to approve the device after data showed it failed prematurely in "significant" numbers.  The device was on the market overseas starting in 2003 and was marketed in the United States in 2005 under a loophole in the law.

This, of course, is in direct conflict with public statements by Johnson & Johnson which insisted that its internal studies refuted complaints by surgeons and regulators in other companies. Johnson & Johnson maintained that the failures were the result of improper placement of the implants by physicians--a position I continue to hear parroted by uninformed doctors or physicians still on Johnson & Johnson's gravy train.

There is only one problem with this defense----the data came from clinical studies performed by surgeons hand picked by Depuy and who received royalties and consulting fees associated with it.  In other words, Depuy's hand picked surgeons were seeing failures at the same rate as other Depuy surgeons who were using the product.

In addition to this email, documents filed with a Senate committee indicate knowledge of a serious problem in 2008, nearly 2 years before the hips were recalled.

Of course, lost in this discussion were the hundreds, if not thousands of people who are now suffering crippling injuries as Depuy continued to mislead both surgeons and consumers about the condition of its product.
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