Thursday, November 1, 2012

Advice could lead to new metal implant regulations

Northern Echo: UK

THE work and advice of North-East academics could result in new, tougher laws on the regulation of medical implants.

In the wake of problems with metal on metal hip implants, which were investigated by Professor Tom Joyce and Dr Pauline McCormack, and then the PIP breast implant scandal, the Government launched an investigation into how implants are regulated.

Prof Joyce and Dr McCormack of Newcastle University, were asked to give evidence to the Science and Technology select committee and their recommendations have been accepted by the committee in its new report. The report could lead to new laws if Parliament gives approval.

Currently there is little transparency over how medical implants were approved for use. Also failed implants are often just thrown away so there is no chance to learn why they may have failed. Prof Joyce and Dr McCormack believe this is unacceptable and the select committee have agreed.
Prof Joyce, Professor of Orthopaedic Engineering at Newcastle University said: "When we were looking at the metal on metal hip implants it became clear that the process of approving medical implants is murky to say the least. This was something that was causing unnecessary suffering to patients and adding cost to the NHS.

Prof Joyce said it seems "ridiculous" that we are not studying failed implants.

"If this report is accepted by Parliament and made into law it has the potential to help millions of people if other countries follow our lead," he added.

A team led by Prof Joyce began investigating the problem of metal hips as far back as 2008.
All-metal hips have a higher than anticipated failure rate and rubbing between the ball and cup can cause metal to break off, seeping into tissue and causing complications.

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