Stryker Corp. has resolved multiple product-liability lawsuits related to thousands of hip implants it recalled in 2012. The recall was spurred after patients complained of pain, swelling and metal debris. Stryker said that it had set aside $1.45 billion to settle the claims but that it expects the eventual expenses to be higher.
Stryker, based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, withdrew its Rejuvenate and ABG II devices in July 2012 after warning surgeons that the devices could harm tissue around the hip. The recall also mentioned other health problems because of the potential for the devices to corrode and cause inflammation in the tissue in and around the implant.
All-metal implants once accounted for about one of every three devices used in the estimated 250,000 hip replacement procedures that are performed annually in the U.S. alone.
The devices have been largely abandoned after evidence emerged several years ago that the metal components may rub together, creating tiny particles of metallic debris that could cause severe damage to a patient's tissue and muscle. Other hip replacement recipients blamed the Stryker implants for high levels of metal debris found in their blood. Stryker recalled both models in 2012 as complaints increased.
The company faces 1,800 cases consolidated before U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank in St. Paul, Minnesota. A New Jersey state judge is overseeing about 2,100 lawsuits over the devices. Since abandoning all-metal implants, surgeons have returned to devices made of a mix of materials, such as plastic and metal. "This settlement program provides patients compensation in a fair, timely and efficient manner," said William J. Huffnagle, the president of Stryker Orthopaedics.
Written by James P. Nevin