The Massachusetts-based medical device company that bought Indianapolis-headquartered Guidant in 2006 recently announced it will pay an additional $45 million into a fund to settle more than 8,500 products liability claims.
The claims arose after the Guidant announced a worldwide recall of certain defibrillator and pacemaker models in 2005 and 2006. The additional money brings the entire settlement to $240 million, still about one-third of the amount that the company originally set aside for litigation of the product liability actions.
Guidant is not the only company to experience litigation brought due to defective devices and leads; Medtronic also has seen many lawsuits filed against it.
Defibrillators and pacemakers are implanted into the chest, underneath the skin and sometimes the muscle. Lead wires run from the devices into the heart muscle and deliver electric shocks to the heart when it experiences dangerous rhythms or stops beating. These devices are referred to as “safety nets” for many patients – because if the device ever failed to work when it was needed, the patient would most likely die.
Hopefully, besides compensating those who had to undergo replacement surgeries and suffer the worries of not knowing if their device would work when they needed it, these lawsuits will result in Guidant and other manufacturers making these devices safer.