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Johnson & Johnson close to settling hip implant lawsuits

NEW YORK, Nov. 13 (UPI) --
U.S. medical devices company Johnson & Johnson is close to resolving thousands of lawsuits over hip replacements that failed, sources told The New York Times.



The settlement could cost up to $4 billion and possibly much more if more of the implanted devices require replacement, the Times reported Tuesday.



The deal, which needs court approval, would give patients whose all-metal hip replacements failed, about $350,000 apiece, although the size of the settlements would depend on the age of the patient and some specifics of their medical condition.



Lawyers estimate up to 8,000 cases filed in state and federal courts nationwide would be settled with the agreement, although that number could rise. There are 12,000 related cases and lawyers are trying to determine which ones would be covered in the settlement, the Times said.



The cases involve articular surface replacements made by Johnson & Johnson's prosthetic division, DePuy Orthopaedics.



The devices were sold to about 93,000 patients, about 31,000 of those in the United States. They were recalled in mid-2010 -- having first gone on the market in 2003 -- after the company realized they were failing at a rate rate eight times faster than most hip replacement devices, which typically last for 15 years.



Company documents indicate the artificial hips were sold long after the company realized there was a high rate of failure.



Some of the all-metal devices shed metal fragments as they wore down, causing injuries and in some cases crippling patients.



A DePuy Orthopaedics spokeswoman declined to comment a the possibility of a settlement, the Times said.



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