Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Minister could win five-figure sum for ‘toxic’ hip operation

London Evening Standard

03 April 2013
A defence minister and former special forces soldier could be in line for a five-figure payout after “toxic” hip implants left him with a tumour, unable to walk distances and in need of complex surgery.
Minister of state Andrew Robathan had his hips “resurfaced” in 2006 using the ASR system manufactured by DePuy, a subsidiary company of healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson.

But by 2011 a non-cancerous tumour had developed at the top of his leg. His GP told him it was linked to his metal hip implants, which had been subject to a recall in 2010.

Tests raised fears they could wear down and cause potentially toxic metal to get into the bloodstream.
Mr Robathan, who spent 15 years in the Army serving as an officer in the Coldstream Guards and the Special Air Service, told the Evening Standard: “The components I had put in are on a product recall.

“When the product is stuck inside you, of course, it becomes rather more tricky — it’s not like recalling a fridge. At first I was resigned to the fact that something had just gone wrong. But I went from being resigned about the situation to being absolutely angry.”

Mr Robathan says he suffers from a lot of pain, has difficulty climbing stairs and needs to sit down after standing for short periods. He will now have to undergo a full double hip replacement, involving two lengthy operations.

It is estimated that more than 10,000 people had been fitted with the implants in the UK by the time DePuy recalled them in 2010. Legal guidelines indicate a claimant can get £28,000 in damages to compensate for a single hip injury, but it may go higher if two hips were operated on, or depending on the level of suffering or lost earnings.

Mr Robathan said: “Frankly, big operations are very difficult. They have dangers, and I’m not looking forward to it. I was hoping these hips would mean I remained active, but instead I’m in pain and need two further big operations. I’m very angry and I am in contact with lawyers with a view to taking legal action. I have a voice in this because of my position as a minister, but there may be people out there who don’t.”

Earlier this month a Los Angeles court ordered DePuy to pay more than $8 million in damages in the first trial relating to nearly 11,000 lawsuits filed in the US relating to the implants.

A spokeswoman for DePuy told the Standard the firm “regrets that the ASR Hip System did not perform as expected for some patients”. She said: “DePuy is committed to working with patients and hospitals to address medical costs directly associated with the recall.”

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