Johnson & Johnson's Toxicologist Says Metal From Recalled Hip Harmless

Published: Feb 22, 2013

A Montana man suing Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)’s DePuy unit over his recalled hip implant wasn’t harmed by the chromium and cobalt debris that entered his tissues and bloodstream, a toxicologist told a jury. Dennis J. Paustenbach testified yesterday on J&J’s behalf at the first of 10,000 lawsuits to go to trial over the ASR hips, which the company recalled in August 2010. In the case, Loren Kransky, 65, claims the hip implant was defectively designed and J&J failed to warn of the risks. “I believe that the cobalt and chromium from the ASR implant did not cause or worsen Mr. Kransky’s systemic health problems,” Paustenbach told jurors in state court in Los Angeles. Kransky’s chromium levels were “of insignificant health risk, basically of no health risk.” Kransky, a retired prison guard, testified earlier that he believed the metal debris was poisoning him. He had a metal cup planted in his hip, and a ball placed atop his femur rotated in the cup. J&J’s lawyers claim the elevated levels of metal in Kransky’s body can be traced to conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, strokes and kidney cancer. They claim he has diseased blood vessels throughout his body. J&J, the world’s biggest seller of health-care products, recalled the hips in August 2010 after saying at least 12 percent failed. Since then, the rate has climbed, reaching 40 percent in Australia. Analysts say it could cost New Brunswick, New Jersey-based J&J billions of dollars to resolve the cases. $5 Million: Paustenbach said his firm ChemRisk Inc. has billed DePuy at least $5 million over the past 18 months. He was part of a team of 40 people who spent thousands of hours studying medical literature and found virtually no research on the effects of cobalt prior to the ASR recall.

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