Saturday, May 11, 2013

Andrew Ekdahl's Role in DePuy Orthopedics Hip Recall Litigation

Published: May 9, 2013
Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry
DePuy is just getting started in the process of liability litigation for the ASR hip implant. How have they fared, and how does the compay's president figure in all of this? 
It’s only been a few years since DePuy put Andrew Ekdahl in the president’s chair. Before that, the 20-year veteran had most recently served as DePuy’s vice president for the Europe, Middle East, and Africa franchise.

In 2011, Ekdahl replaced David Floyd, who resigned amidst lawsuits of possible defective hip replacements. These lawsuits are still going on today, and Ekdahl has a bigger role to play than you might have thought.

At the time of his placement as president, Ekdahl was given a significant amount of sympathy for the situation he had inherited, particularly the 2010 voluntary recall of ASR acetabular hip system.
“There’s no doubt (Ekdahl) is coming into a crappy situation,” said Robin Young, founder of the Warsaw-based orthopedic-data firm PearlDiver Technologies Inc. said in an interview with Orthostreams in June 2011. “I’m sure he was selected based on his experience.”

It turns out, however, that Ekdahl’s experience might also be a hindrance in the ASR cases. Ekdahl was part of the marketing team to bring the ASR implants system to the United States.
According to Johnson & Johnson documents unsealed for the case, Kransky vs. DePuy, Ekdahl may have been among several executives who were told as early as 2009 that there were design flaws in the hip system that could lead to too much metal in the blood and other safety complications.

“The issue seen with ASR and XL today, over five years post-launch, are most likely linked to the inherent design of the product and that is something we should recognize,” executive, Raphael Pascaud wrote in March 2009, reported the New York Times.

Ekdahl’s testimony was provided to jurors in Los Angeles in January in the case of Kransky v. DePuy, the first of more than 10,000 lawsuits the company will have to face. Ekhdal was firm in the company’s line that the ASR was recalled, “because it did not meet the clinical standards we wanted in the marketplace.”

J&J was ordered to pay damages of $8 million to plaintiff Loren Kransky, but DePuy is appealing the verdict.

In Illinois, a second trial found in favor of the defendants. In April, plaintiff Carol Strum lost her bid for a $5 million to cover damages, plus punitive damages to penalize DePuy.  The verdict reflects well on DePuy, which has maintained that it acted with integrity to protect patients.

What are still to come are the big trials before U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio. Many of the trials will be held there due to its proximity of DePuy's headquarters in Warsaw, IN. About three quarters of the total lawsuits will go to federal court in Toledo. However, the first of these trials was supposed to begin on June 3, 2013. District Court Judge David A. Katz has delayed the trials to September 9.

Another liability suit was also filed against DePuy over ASR at the end of April in San Francisco Superior Court.

As the cases rack up, a pattern should emerge. But as of now, DePuy has one win, one loss, one rain out, and a very long season ahead.

Heather Thompson

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