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Johnson & Johnson to pay $4 billion settlement over metal-on-metal hip implants: Report

Johnson & Johnson plans to pay more than $4 billion to settle more than 7,500 lawsuits in federal and state courts against over faulty metal-on-metal hip implants manufactured by the company's DePuy unit, according to a report from Bloomberg citing three people familiar with the deal.

The agreement doesn't bar patients whose artificial hips fail in the future from seeking compensation from J&J, according to the report.

A DePuy Orthopaedics spokesperson told the company declined to comment on the report.

DePuy's all-metal ball-and-socket hip joints were sold for eight years to more than 35,000 people in the U.S. and 90,000 people worldwide before they were recalled from the market in 2010 after the implants were linked to high failure rates.

 Studies also found metal ions in the implants may seep into patients' bloodsteams, destroying muscle and bone and potentially damaging organs.

About 400,000 Americans undergo hip replacement surgery each year. Metal hips used to account for about a third of these procedures until recent years.

In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asked all manufacturers of metal-on-metal hips to conduct safety studies.

In March 2012, British researchers analyzed data from the world's biggest artificial joint registry, and concluded doctors should stop using metal-on-metal hip replacements. They found that within five years of the implant, about 6 percent of people who had used them needed surgery to fix or replace them, compared with 1.7 to 2.3 percent of people who had ceramic or plastic joint implants, respectively.

One month later, an FDA panel said there were few reasons to continue use of metal-on-metal implants.

This January, the first of thousands of lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson over the hip implants opened in Los Angeles, with plaintiff Loren Kransky suing over medical issues stemming from his hip implant he received in 2007 that he's since gotten replaced. The company at the time said the 64-year-old had many pre-existing health conditions and did not get worse because of the implant or better after it was removed.

Jurors in March awarded Kransky more than $8 million.

The reported multi-billion dollar settlement is the second this month for Johnson & Johnson. J&J and its subsidiaries settled with the U.S. Department of Justice Nov. 6 for $2.2 billion to resolve allegations of promoting three prescription drugs -- Risperdal, Invega and Natrecor -- for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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