DePuy said the Ultamet and Complete brands now represent less than 1 percent of its bearings sold in the United States and Europe. Physicians have come to prefer metal-on-polyethylene, ceramic-on-polyethylene and ceramic-on-ceramic bearings. Polyethylene is a medical-grade form of plastic.
The company said it also made its decision due to proposed Food and Drug Administration changes that would require a more extensive approval process for metal-on-metal systems. Ultamet is DePuy's only metal-on-metal system, and the company noted that clinical demand for this type of hip replacement is extremely low.
Artificial joint systems replace deteriorated joints causing severe pain and limiting mobility. Hip replacement parts include the top of the thigh bone, the ball atop that and a plate lining the hip socket. The systems are generally expected to last at least 10 to 20 years.
DePuy said it will announce other worldwide product discontinuations this year and next, as it simplifies its portfolio.
Shares of J&J climbed 19 cents to $87.64 in midday trading, while broader trading indexes also rose less than 1 percent. The stock reached a new, 52-week high price of $88.07 earlier in the morning, and J&J shares have climbed about 25 percent so far this year.