Product News and Recalls

British surgeons: Ban metal-on-metal hip joints

The British Hip Society, consisting of surgeons and scientists who work with the hip joint, has issued a recommendation that the use of metal-on-metal hip implants be discontinued because of their high early failure rate.

The Daily Telegraph quotes Joe Dias, president of the British Orthopaedic Association, as saying that about 5.5 percent of the large metal-on-metal implants – in which the ball and the socket are both coated with metal — needed to be replaced because of wear-and-tear within five years, compared to about two percent of the standard metal-on-plastic implants.

Metal-on-metal hip implants have also been problematic in the United States.

In December, the Food and Drug Administration informed the public that DePuy, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, was manufacturing 14 different artificial joint components that had not been approved by the FDA. These included knee systems and hip systems. DePuy claimed that these products were exempt from the FDA approval process because they were “substantially equivalent” to preexisting devices and were “custom devices” requested by surgeons to match the anatomy of individual patients. The FDA disagreed because the 14 device components contained “standardized design characteristics,” meaning they were not custom made.

A typical implant is supposed to last for 15 years or longer, but it has been estimated that at least 1 out of every 8 patients who received one of these hip implants has needed corrective surgery within 5 years of the implant. The rate of defective implants may be even higher, and there have been over 93,000 of these implants worldwide.

The first lawsuit over one of these defective implants was filed in March of 2009, and over the last few years the FDA received between 400 and 500 complaints of early failure, but DePuy/Johnson & Johnson delayed in issuing a recall until August 2010.

If you received a DePuy Orthopedics hip implant and are experiencing side-effects, contact Lopez McHugh for a free case evaluation.

The Daily Telegraph story can be found here: