Toxic hip implants sold by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary 'which knew for THREE YEARS that they could be dangerous'
DePuy marketed metal-on-metal implants 'despite surgeon's warnings'Hips failed after 2.5 yrs far more regularly than other models, tests foundThey were suspected of causing potentially toxic metal to get into bloodRevelations on warnings come in Los Angeles compensation court case
02:26 GMT, 1 February 2013
02:30 GMT, 1 February 2013
Toxic hip implants used in thousands of operations in Britain were sold by a company which knew for at least three years that they could be dangerous, it was claimed today.
Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy advertised ‘metal-on-metal’ hip implants despite a top surgeon allegedly telling one of the manufacturer’s executives in an email that they were causing problems.
Tests found the hips failed after two and a half years far more regularly than other models – but they were continually marketed to British patients, despite them being suspected of poisoning the blood.
Dangerous: An online warning by a U.S. law firm investigating the early failure of the hip implant. More than 10,000 patients in Britain were fitted with the implants, which are thought to wear down and cause issues
Hundreds of patients are now having replacements for the hips, which are intended to last for life, despite DePuy allegedly being continually warned about their impact, reported the Daily Telegraph.
More than 10,000 patients in Britain were fitted with the implants, which are thought to wear down and cause potentially toxic metal to get into the bloodstream. They were taken out of use in 2010.
Revelations over the warnings appeared in a court case in Los Angeles, looking at the compensation of patients, in which Loren Kransky, 65, is suing DePuy for failing to warm him the hip could be faulty.
In metal-on-metal implants, the ball and socket of the hip are replaced with metal instead of one or both being another material, like plastic or ceramic. It is deemed a failure if it has to be taken out.
Pain: Company figures showed in June 2007 that the implants had a 90 per cent survival rate after two and a half years – which was relatively low in relation to other models (file picture)
The faulty implant, known as an ASR device, was introduced to the UK in July 2003. It was one of a new generation of hip implants made from metal alone, rather than metal and plastic.
The hip was supposed to last longer and prevent patients from losing too much tissue and bone when it was inserted. It was thought surgeons began reporting problems with the implant in 2007.
But new documents alleged that Belfast orthopaedic surgeon David Beverland had been reporting problems earlier, and wrote to DePuy engineer Graham Isaac in May 2006 to discuss the problems.
The next year Dr Beverland chose to discontinue use of the implants, reported the Daily Telegraph.
Company logo: Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy advertised 'metal on metal' hip implants despite a top surgeon allegedly telling one of the manufacturer's executives in an email that patients were suffering
Company figures showed in June 2007 that the implants had a 90 per cent survival rate after two and a half years – which was relatively low in relation to other models.
But the firm looked at a new method for marketing the product with different data in March 2008 that gave a 99 per cent rate of success. One marketing manager called it a ‘game changer’.
Patients had started returning to hospitals in pain in 2007. A research team in Newcastle found that the metal surfaces wore away, releasing tiny particles of chromium and cobalt into the body.
These were absorbed into the bloodstream and surrounding tissues, causing inflammation, bone and tissue damage around the pelvis and, in severe cases, blood poisoning and benign tumours.
A DePuy spokesman told the Daily Telegraph that evidence will show it acted ‘appropriately and responsibly’ and was always ‘looking out for patient interests by analysing data’.