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Hip implant maker claims surgical funder inflated patients’ bills

By Alison Frankel and Jessica Dye

(Reuters) – A unit of Johnson & Johnson that makes artificial hips has accused a surgical funding company of seeking excessive profits from financing surgery for patients suing over the devices.

The claim by DePuy Orthopaedics marks the first time that a device maker in the multibillion-dollar litigation over faulty hip replacements has publicly raised concerns about the controversial business of surgical funding, which has increasingly become a part of mass litigation over medical devices.

Surgical funders essentially invest in operations on injured plaintiffs. If a litigant can’t afford surgery to correct problems allegedly caused by medical devices, the funders will step in to purchase medical bills at a deep discount from physicians, hospitals and others who have provided care to the patient. When the patient’s lawsuit settles, the funder reaps a profit by placing a lien on the settlement for the full amount of the patient’s surgical bill.

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