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August 19, 2018

J&J Hid Attune Knee Defects to Protect Profits

A new lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and its DePuy Synthes subsidiary indicates that the companies hid substantial Attune knee defects to maximize profits at the cost of patient health.

Derrick Pearson filed the complaint August 8 in the Northern District of Texas. He alleges that the companies knew that the DePuy Attune knee was defective and prone to failure but concealed these defects and continued to aggressively market the knee implant to increase sales, leaving patients like him to suffer severe consequences and additional surgeries when the knee replacement ultimately failed.

According to Pearson, he received the Attune knee implant during right-side total knee replacement surgery in March 2016. However, he began suffering from significant complications almost immediately from the faulty implant including severe chronic pain and difficulty walking.

By October 2016, his condition had deteriorated to the point that his surgeon took radiographs, finding loosening and debonding of the tibial tray. His surgeon even noted that the catastrophic failure was strikingly similar to issues he was seeing in other Attune knee systems.

In May 2017, Pearson underwent risky revision surgery due to Attune knee failure. His surgeon found that the tibial tray was completely loose and even removed it by hand without any instrumentation. He further noted that there was a complete separation of the cement in the tibial tray, as he is continually seeing in an ongoing series of other revisions involving the same J&J components.

Furthermore, J&J and DePuy knew that outcomes like Pearson’s and countless others were likely, given the defective nature of the implant. However, the companies continue to downplay the risks to push sales ever higher for the defective device.

Attune Knee Replacement Litigation

The FDA approved the DePuy Synthes Attune Knee system in 2010. Due to the manufacturers aggressive marketing, the medical community quickly adopted the Attune knee, pushing the implant’s sales to roughly 400,000 thousand devices worldwide.

Even though most DePuy knee systems have only been implanted in the past few years, a high failure rate has already surfaced in post-marketing adverse event reports.

As of June 2017, the FDA had received around 1,400 reports of DePuy Attune knee failures. At least 633 of these cases required revision surgery to treat.

Pearson’s lawsuit raises similar allegations as those in other Attune knee replacement lawsuits from individuals who have experienced substantial problems from the defective implant. The primary reason for Attune knee early failure is mechanical loosening due to the failure of the tibial baseplate to properly bond with the implant-cement surface. These lawsuits indicate that this loosening causes the artificial joint to detach from the bone, resulting in early failure.

Knee replacement loosening and failure causes severe pain and can wear away the bone, leading to restricted physical movement and pain escalation which will continue until the pain becomes unbearable or the device fails, taking knee function along with it. At this time, most patients elect to undergo revision surgery to remove the implant.

Given the popularity of the DePuy Attune knee implant coupled with the high failure rate, experts indicate that the litigation to grow by leaps and bounds as knees continue to fail and individuals discover that J&J could have prevented their severe injuries.

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