J&J's other hip device lands it back in court

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Last week, Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) got hit with another suit over its now-recalled ASR hip implant. Now, the company and its DePuy subsidiary face litigation over their other hip device, the Pinnacle.

A Utah woman is suing the two, saying her metal-on-metal implant is defective and has caused significant injuries, adding that had she been properly warned of the "unreasonably dangerous character" of the Pinnacle device, she would have opted out of the procedure.

J&J is dealing with around 10,000 lawsuits over ASR, but the mounting Pinnacle litigation is potentially more dangerous, as that product is still on the market. The company maintains that the two devices are substantially different, and it plans to defend itself against all accusations.

As Reuters reported last year, Pinnacle has a failure rate of about 10%, which is nearly double what's normally accepted among manufacturers but comes far below the estimated 49% clip at which ASR implants were flagging.

Still, the all-metal hip implant business is beset with challenges: If a device wasn't recalled, then it's probably facing lawsuits, and if it's not, the market for the products continues to shrink as regulators the world over recommend against implanting them. Biomet faces similar litigation over its M2a Magnum Hip System, and Stryker ($SYK) and Smith & Nephew ($SNN) are watching sales plummet as both the FDA and MHRA say there's no benefit in implanting all-metal hips over standard plastic or ceramic varieties.

For J&J, the problem is compounded: In addition to the ASR and Pinnacle suits, the company is back in court over Gynecare Prolift, the vaginal mesh implant that plaintiffs say J&J marketed without warning patients of serious dangers.

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