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Company sued over Calif bone cement surgery deaths

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A medical firm and former executives convicted of running unauthorized clinical tests of bone cement are blamed in a lawsuit for contributing to the deaths of two elderly California women.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Contra Costa County Superior Court. It alleges 83-year-olds Ryoichi Kikuchi and Barbara Marcelino died after receiving bone cement injections during surgeries at a Walnut Creek hospital in 2003 and 2004.

The product was manufactured by Pennsylvania-based Synthes (SIN-theez) North America.

Bone cement often is used to keep bone implants in place. Synthes’ product was approved for use in arms but not in the spine.

Synthes and former subsidiary Norian Corp. previously pleaded guilty to corporate health care fraud and agreed to pay $23 million in fines. Four former executives also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of illegally promoting the product’s “off-label” use.

A Synthes representative didn’t return an after-hours call for comment Friday.

The company has since been sold to Johnson & Johnson.

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