After six years of legal wrangling, Wright Medical has agreed to settle its approximately 600 remaining artificial hip lawsuits for $90 million. According to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the agreement was finalized on October 3rd.
In November 2016, Wright Medical had agreed to settle approximately 1,300 metal-on-metal hip cases for a total of $240 million. The most recent settlement covers people who didn’t agree to the first settlement or filed lawsuits after it was completed. The new agreement also covers people who had implants fail after the time limit to file a lawsuit ran out.
Wright Medical faced hundreds of lawsuits over the Conserve hip implants by 2012. The cases were combined into a pair of multidistrict litigations (MDLs). MDLs allow several similar lawsuits to be combined to save time and money, allowing cases to move more quickly through the legal process.
In 2015, an Atlanta jury awarded an $11 million verdict to a woman who had received a faulty Wright Conserve hip implant. The jury found the device was defective, unreasonably dangerous and that the company had misrepresented its safety. Wright agreed to the first settlement about a year later.
Like other failed hip devices, the Wright Medical Conserve hips were prone to high failure rates within the first five years of implantation and the problems reflected similar issues with other metal-on-metal hip replacements such as metallosis, damage to bone or muscle tissue and device loosening.
In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered manufacturers to begin tracking problems with the device.
The agency had cleared at least 190 metal-on-metal approval requests through the agency’s 510(k) process by late 2012. Most of the requests were for modifications to existing designs. The 501(k) process requires that a device maker simply show its product is “substantially similar” to a medical device already on the market.
Since 2016, the FDA has required any company manufacturing certain types of metal-on-metal hip implants to receive the agency’s premarket approval (PMA) before marketing them in the U.S. In the PMA process, manufacturers have to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of their devices.
While Wright Medical’s hip litigation has concluded, three major hip manufacturers including Biomet, DePuy, and Zimmer still face thousands of hip lawsuits due to failures.