Previously, we reported on claimed defects in the ASR metal-on-metal hip implant manufactured by Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy orthopedics division (click here to read the first of those posts). Now, an article from Reuters advises that DePuy’s Pinnacle system, a successor to the ASR model that also employs a metal-on-metal design, is the subject of some 1,600 new lawsuits in the U.S.

According to Reuters, current estimates suggest that 10% of the patients who received the Pinnacle system will have implants fail in the next two to three years, while experiencing the same pain, swelling, mobility, and dislocation problems that a number patients with the ASR device have encountered. The biggest concern doctors have is “the high levels of cobalt and chromium in the bloodstream resulting from wear of the all-metal implants. Metallosis, as it is known, can lead to cardiovascular, neurological, renal and thyroid problems, in addition to destroying soft tissue, muscle and bone.”

500,000 U.S. patients received metal-on-metal hip implants; 150,000 received the Pinnacle device, while 37,000 received the ASR model. Johnson & Johnson has reserved $3 billion to settle the ASR lawsuits, but if the cases involving the Pinnacle device succeed, it may cost the company $5 billion just to compensate patients for corrective procedures (known as “revision surgery”) before additional damages are added to the total bill.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration, which many claim contributed to the ASR debacle by allowing Johnson & Johnson and other manufacturers to forego clinical testing on the basis of a regulatory loophole, has kept a watchful eye on developments with metal-on-metal implants. Last month, an FDA panel consisting of outside advisors concluded there “was little reason for surgeons to use these devices given the risks.”

If you have a metal-on-metal implant manufactured by the DePuy division of Johnson & Johnson, Wright Technologies, Smith and Nephew or another company, and are experiencing difficulties with pain or mobility, we would like to talk to you about your situation. Depending on your circumstances, you may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses and other economic losses.