A witness for Johnson & Johnson testified Tuesday that an infection led a Montana man to have his metal-on-metal hip device replaced, not a defect in the prosthesis.
Gonzalo Ballon-Landa, an infectious diseases doctor, testified at a Los Angeles trial on a lawsuit by Loren Kransky. He claims J&J defectively designed his ASR hip device and failed to warn of risks. The lawsuit is the first of 10,000 to go to trial. Analysts say J&J may pay billions of dollars to resolve cases over the ASR, which the company recalled in 2010.
J&J, the world's largest seller of health-care products, called Ballon-Landa to counter Kransky's claim that the hip failed because of a defective design. Rather, Ballon-Landa said, Kransky had so-called revision surgery to replace his ASR because of an infection that spanned several years, he said.
"The infection caused him pain, and the pain is why Mr. Kransky had revision surgery," Ballon-Landa told state court jurors. He said the kind of infection Kransky had was "the most common cause of artificial joint infections."
Kransky, a 65-year-old former prison guard, had the hip implanted in December 2007 and removed in February 2012. Ballon- Landa said he developed a staph infection through the port used to administer chemotherapy drugs for his kidney cancer.
He pointed to a 2009 medical report in which Kransky complained of pain in his hip. Kransky's doctor described a lump as swelling. Ballon-Landa said the infection was present from 2009 until Kransky had his hip replaced.
"It is impossible to completely cure an infected hip," he said.
J&J's DePuy unit recalled the hips when their failure rate hit 12 percent in the U.K. Since then, the failure rate hit 40 percent in Australia. J&J, based in New Brunswick, N.J., denies that it defectively designed the device or failed to warn of the risks.
On cross-examination by Kransky attorney Michael Kelly, Ballon-Landa said none of the five physicians who examined Kransky from December 2007 until his revision found an infection.
"There's no indication that they thought he had an infection," Ballon-Landa said.