Monday, February 4, 2013

Dangers of toxic hip implants used in Britain kept secret for years

A company sold toxic hip implants used in thousands of operations in Britain knowing for at least three years that they were potentially dangerous, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.


Faulty medical implants leave NHS with costly bill
More than 10,000 Britons have been fitted with the metal-on-metal implants Photo: ALAMY

Depuy, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, continued to market “metal on metal” hip implants after a leading British surgeon warned in emails to an executive of the manufacturer that patients were suffering. The company’s own data also allegedly disclosed that a relatively high proportion of the artificial hips, which are supposed to last a lifetime, were failing after two and a half years.
Tests concluded that they were significantly more likely to fail than other models. Depuy continued to market the hips to British patients, hundreds of whom are now having them replaced because they are suspected of causing blood poisoning. The test results are not thought to have been shared with British regulators or made public.
 
The disclosure over the warnings came in an American court case that is considering whether patients should be compensated for the faulty implants. Documents appear to show that Depuy was repeatedly warned about the impact on British patients.
 
More than 10,000 Britons have been fitted with the metal-on-metal implants, which are suspected of wearing down and depositing potentially toxic metal into the bloodstream. The product was withdrawn from use in 2010, a number of years after the warnings were made.
 
The documents raise renewed questions for British regulators. Last year, following a joint investigation with the British Medical Journal, The Daily Telegraph revealed that the health of British patients was being potentially put at risk by European regulators who were prepared to license potentially dangerous medical implants for sale in this country. They included metal-on-metal implants manufactured to the same specifications as the Johnson & Johnson product.

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