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The New York Times reported last week that Johnson & Johnson recently appointed a new CEO, Alex Gorsky. Normally, a change in leadership at the top might not be big news for litigators, but in this case it is. Johnson & Johnson is the company that owns DePuy Orthopaedics, the company at the heart of a major global recall of nearly 100,000 hip replacement devices. And Alex Gorsky was the Johnson & Johnson executive in charge of the medical device and diagnostic group that includes DePuy.

According to the Times article, Gorsky assumed control over the medical device and diagnostic group just as the DePuy recall issue was really beginning to heat up. The FDA had just denied approval for one of DePuy’s hip implants in the U.S. At the same time, complaints were starting to pour in from around the world about that device. Despite executives continuing to insist that the ASR devices were safe, in August of 2010 a massive worldwide recall of the ASR hip systems was issued.

The recall was based on multiple concerns, but chief among them are the risk of cobalt poisoning, caused by friction of the metal-on-metal device components, and the high likelihood of premature failure and the need for revision surgery. Initial news about the high failure rate indicated that 12% of patients receiving the resurfacing device and 13% of patients receiving the total hip replacement ultimately needed revision surgery. But more recently, news has emerged that the failure rate maybe be as high as 49%. Hip replacement is supposed to be a once in a lifetime event, but instead nearly half of patients receiving the DePuy products are confronted with the unacceptably high possibility of needing a second surgery.

Ongoing litigation against DePuy will certainly help to sort out the extent of DePuy’s knowledge of the risks before they put their medical device products on the market. But it’s hard to overlook the fact that the man who—either directly or indirectly—oversaw a major medical device recall has now been promoted. And as the Times article points out, with his pharmaceutical sales background he was promoted over another candidate with a background in science and research. In light of that, the promotion of Gorsky to CEO of Johnson & Johnson just might be an indication of a company that puts profit above safety.

About Childers, Schlueter & Smith, LLC

If you or someone you know has received a DePuy ASR hip implant, contact the hip impalnt laywers at Childers, Schlueter & Smith, LLC for a free case evaluation and consultation regarding your legal rights. Our hip implant recall lawyers continue to review claims all over the country in an effort to help those affected by this dangerous product.

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