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Johnson & Johnson to pay $120 million to settle hip-implant claims

Settling a long-running legal dispute, Johnson & Johnson will pay $120 million to resolve claims by state prosecutors that the health care giant falsely marketed hip-implant devices.

New York Attorney General Letitia James and 45 other attorneys general across the nation alleged that DePuy, a medical device company and subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, used "unfair and deceptive" practices to make misleading claims about the implants' longevity.

"Doctors and their patients need to have accurate and up to date information to ensure that patients are receiving appropriate healthcare," James said in a statement announcing the settlement on Tuesday. "Companies should never be allowed to freely mislead the public, especially when there are health concerns involved."

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DePuy, one of the world's biggest makers of replacement joints, was accused by prosecutors of making misleading claims about the longevity of two "metal-on-metal" hip-implant products -- the ASR XL and the Pinnacle Ultamet. 

Patients who needed additional surgery because of failures in the hip implant devices also reported groin pain, allergic reactions, tissue necrosis and build-up of metal ions in their blood. DePuy recalled the ASR XL in 2010 and halted sales of the Pinnacle Ultamet in 2013.

"The settlement involves no admission of liability or misconduct on the part of the companies," Mindy Tinsley, spokeswoman for DePuy Synthes, said in a statement. "DePuy Synthes remains committed to meeting the current and future needs of orthopedic surgeons and patients."

While DePuy settled more than 10,000 claims from hip-implant patients who needed revision surgeries from 2013 to 2017, similar lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson and DePuy have been filed outside the U.S., according to J&J's most recent quarterly earnings report. Lawsuits have also been filed in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Germany and Italy. 

As part of the settlement, DePuy is required to base claims about the longevity of its hip implants on the latest available data, monitor the products' performance and review patient complaints quarterly.