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DePuy Pinnacle metal hip failures continue to make headlines. According to Johnson and Johnson and its subsidiary DePuy internal documents, U.S. patients were fitted with the controversial metal on metal hip implants despite the companies knowing that the type of metal hip device was unsafe.

Johnson and Johnson and DePuy knew in 1995

A senior engineer working for DePuy reported in 1995 that metal-on-metal constructions were “unpredictable” and parts prone to “catastrophic breakdown” five years before DePuy’s hips began to be implanted in Americans.

Many thousands of patients were fitted with the metal implants, which according to experts can release toxic metal cobalt and chromium ions into the bloodstream during normal use. Thousands of patients were abandoned with painful hips and had to have costly operations to have them replaced with safer alternatives.

British Telegraph Report

A Daily Telegraph investigation has exposed a series of memos, reports, and emails, obtained from DePuy, that raised questions about the safety of metal-on-metal hip devices.

In 1995, a surgeon advising DePuy told the firm that “we need to be cautious of the legal/litigation issues, lawyers etc … perception of metal debris and metal ion release.”

More than twenty years later the chickens have come home to roost, the companies face thousands of lawsuits by patients who say they have suffered catastrophic injuries and serious metal poisoning.

The Telegraph’s investigation also reveals how:

  • Senior company figures were told in 2003 that one surgeon had already collected “a lot of bad data about metal-on-metal debris” in patients who had received DePuy implants.
  • A 2005 report warned that risks to patients of metal-on-metal were “as yet undetermined” but “the risk to DePuy may be major in terms of product liability or business impact.”
  • An internal email in September 2008 acknowledged there were “growing concerns over metal-on-metal hips”. Surgeons needed “a high stability non-metal option.”

Tony Nargol, a surgeon based in North Tees, England, repeatedly notified DePuy from around 2008 about side effects with its implants but was labelled an “outlier” and was told his patients may simply have high volumes of metal in their blood because of a local “water supply problem.”

A report commissioned by the companies in 2008 about the use of one of DePuy’s first metal-on-metal implants found that metal particles released from the devices “have killed the bone” and soft tissues around the hip and “resulted in the tendons ripping away”.

Dallas Federal Court Trials

All the federally filed lawsuits in the U.S. have been consolidated and centralized in Dallas, Texas for coordinated discovery and bellwether trials as part of a multidistrict ligitation or MDL.

The documents, filed in Dallas federal court court, include an email from John Irving, a US orthopaedic surgeon, in 2010, forwarded internally to the company’s president, insisting that “it borders on unethical to continue to market” the Pinnacle type of metal-on-metal hips “until the issues are elucidated”.

He accused the firm of a “head-in-the-sand response to this problem” and warned that “the products are harming patients” – three years before the implant was eventually discontinued.

DePuy Hip Debacle on going since 2002

DePuy’s Pinnacle implant was first used in the U.S. in 2002, with the ASR, another metal-on-metal device, released two years later. They were promoted as offering better mobility than devices that used a metal ball and plastic socket.

In his 1995 memo, Dr. Isaac examined data on metal-on-metal hips produced by rival companies. He wrote: “It is clear from the literature the survivorship of cobalt chromium (the materials used in metal implants), metal-on-metal prostheses in the past have been far from satisfactory”.

He quoted an expert warning that the combination of metal with metal was “likely to give rise to toxic levels of metal under clinical conditions”.

If you think you may have DePuy Pinnacle metal hip device and are experiencing pain caused by metal corrosion or have suffered premature hip failure requiring full revision and emergency care, please call Dr. Shezad Malik law firm at 888-210-9693.

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