One of the surgeons who designed the DePuy ASR hip replacement testified last week that the company didn’t have a “vigilance and complaint department” to probe reported problems with the devices. Instead, problems with the devices were reported to the company’s marketing department, which the doctor called his “primary conduit” for information about problems other surgeons were having with the hips. Dr. Thomas Schmalzried’s testimony contradicts earlier statements from other DePuy employees that company policy required that all complaints be directed to that department.
“They don’t have a vigilance department,” said Dr. Schmalzried on cross-examination during the trial in Los Angeles. And Dr. Schmalzried should know: he’s made about $3.6 million in royalties on the ASR hip. Since 2000, he’s been paid about $20 million by DePuy and its parent, Johnson & Johnson.
This is the first trial on DePuy’s ARR metal-on-metal hips. It’s estimated that there are 10,000 similar lawsuit pending alleging defects in the design and failures in market-surveillance by DePuy.