Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hip Joints Set Off new Rush To Court

Key points  from an article published in the Wall St Journal on July 8th.  Article by Johathan Rockoff and Dionne Searcey. (Sorry, I can't access the URL.)

1.  1000 lawsuits have been filed in federal and state courts accusing DePuy of knowing about problems with some of its metal on metal hip joints before Depuy stopped making them.

2.  Depuy has turned over 200,000 of 18 Million  internal documents it is expected to submit  in the federal litigation.

3.  Depuy has set aside approximately $570 million last year for product liability costs and an additional $280 million to cover surgeries and other medical care for patients with those joints.

4.  The estimate is that about 37,000 patients in the US and about 93,000 world wide have received the recalled device.

5.  The Depuy spokesperson said the company will cover the cost of all medical care associated with the device, including replacement surgery.

6.  Depuy has helped nearly 27,000 callers, many of those calls led to claims for reimbursement.

7.   Though the Depuy spokesperson said the recalled   joints contain chromium and cobalt, she said it wasn't clear the devices contributed to elevated levels of those metals in patient's blood or how many patients have this problem.  [added by connie, good grief, it is quite hard to believe at this point that Depuy would hold this position.]

8.  In May of this year, the FDA said particles from the metal on metal hip joints might wear off and make their way into a patient's blood.  The agency said  this could contribute to  heavy concentrations of chromium and cobalt in teh body but wasn't sure it would cause symptoms.  The FDA just ordered the J and J (Depuy's parent) and other joint makers of metal on metal to monitor the devises for possible health risk.  [obviously, someone hasn't been reading the medical literature!...possible problems...possible symptoms...possible cause and effect?  Hard to believe these positions are maintained in light of the evidence.]

9.  Most replacements are metal on plastic but these joints also can wear down and potentially leave plastic debris in the body...says the Chair of the Dept of Ortho at the Mayo Clinic in Florida.

10.  The outcome of the litigation may hinge on what did Depuy know about these hips and when did they know it. ( see an earlier post on this: )

11.  The Plaintiff lawyers contend that officials from the Australian medical device registry first warned Depuy about high failure rates and complications from these Depuy hips in 2007.

12.  The Depuy spokesperson said they monitored a number of databases like  the one in Australia but it wasn't until the British registry published information on the failure rates that Depuy decided to recall the hips.

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