Since DePuy Orthopedics announced that it would recall its ASR hip implants last July, the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary as been barraged by bad news and even worse public perception. The metal-on-metal hip implant models were designed to be more sturdy, and were marketed toward a younger audience. But in reality, the hip implant’s metal construction was found to have an astronomical 13 percent failure rate, as many patients complained of chronic pain and abnormal levels of cobalt and chromium in their blood streams. Facing more than 500 state and federal hip implant lawsuits, J&J announced this week that DePuy’s president David Floyd will step down later this month.
Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Lorie Gawreluk told Bloomberg over email that Floyd is resigning to “pursue interests outside the company,” and declined to add specifics. It’s hard to believe that Floyd’s removal isn’t at least partially due to DePuy’s massive and expensive hip implant failures. The company has already set aside $280 million to pay for the recall, and will likely be on the hook for much more as hip implant lawsuits continue to pile up.
Last week, the San Francisco Daily Journal reported that California hip implant lawsuits may be tried here in the Bay Area. This came after Superior Court Complex Litigation Judge Richard Kramer indicated that he might favor San Francisco over the larger Los Angeles, saying “I wouldn’t assign something to San Francisco if I thought I couldn’t do it.”
It’s important to note that DePuy cannot bare the sole responsibility for these faulty hip implants. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration, the federal agency charged with making sure that all medical devices are safe, approved the DePuy ASR hip implant model with the help of a shortened process that green lights any product that is similar to another product already on the market. A recent New York Times story revealed that seventy percent of the medical devices recalled over the past five years were approved with the help of this streamlined procedure.
Floyd’s departure from DePuy will likely have a limited impact on state and federal hip implant lawsuits. But it’s a clear indication that, at least from a business perspective, Floyd’s leadership is no longer beneficial for DePuy.