The British Medical Journal (BMJ) recently announced that an investigation into failing metal hip implants has revealed that thousands of patients may potentially suffer toxic poisoning caused by these devices.
According to an article published in The Daily Mail, the British Medical Journal partnered with the BBC to investigate reports of metal poisoning associated with certain hip replacement devices, specifically the DePuy ASR hip, which was recalled from the market in 2010. The report claims that the cobalt and chromium components used in the artificial hips can seek into surrounding body tissue, causing damage to muscle and bone and potentially leaving some patients permanently disabled. Researchers also suggested that some metal hip manufacturers had changed the design of some of these devices without performing safety studies, which may contribute to an elevated risk of toxicity.
The British Medical Journal also stated that health regulators in the U.S. and the U.K. failed to adequately warn patients of the dangers associated with the metal hips and hinted that manufacturers should have been aware of the potential risks. The report was issued shortly after the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced that it would institute new guidelines for British patients with all-metal hip implants.
Under the new guidelines, the MHRA is recommending that metal hip implant recipients seek routine follow-up care, including regular MRIs, to detect any potential problems with their device. According to the MHRA, approximately 49,000 patients are in the U.K. are categorized as “high risk” but the agency insists that the new care guidelines are meant to be a precautionary measure.
An estimated 93,000 DePuy hips were involved in the worldwide recall that took place in 2010. The recall was issued after data from the U.K. National Joint Registry indicated that the all-metal hips were failing at a rate of 12 to 13% in the first five years. A significant number of patients had reportedly required additional revision surgery to correct problems caused by the hip replacement implants.
Last week, a New York Times article revealed that Johnson & Johnson had continued to market the DePuy ASR hip resurfacing system to health care providers overseas for a year after the Food and Drug Administration failed to approve the device for sale in the U.S. An internal email was also recently published by the Times, which suggests that executives within DePuy Orthopedics were aware of the potential risk for failure associated with the ASR hips long before the devices were ever recalled.
Both Johnson & Johnson and DePuy currently face numerous lawsuits in the U.S. filed on behalf of patients who say that they experienced serious complications after being implanted with a metal hip device. The plaintiffs allege that the ASR hips caused pain, swelling, inflammation, loss of mobility and other side effects, many of which required revision surgery. The lawsuits also allege that the manufacturers were aware of the problems but did not take steps to warn consumers of the risks.
Patients in the U.S. and the U.K. may be eligible to seek monetary compensation for any injuries they suffered in connection with a DePuy ASR hip. These individuals are urged to contact an experienced DePuy hip injury attorney to discuss their legal rights.