Knee Failure Rates, First Trial Underway in California

The perception that all-metal implants would be an improvement over plastic artificial hips and knees appears to have proven just that. Reality has not mirrored perception, with metal-on-metal devices not only failing to last beyond the 15-year life expectancy of more traditional implants, but actually failing in a matter of months. Hip and Knee Replacement Implant Failure has become a familiar headline.

Now, the world’s largest provider of health care products has found itself at the trigger point of yet another recall – and while this product does not involve the US, the recall is a further pox on the global medical device industry, and how intended improvements on medical devices have not, it appears, been sufficiently tested to avoid massive failures amongst the population.

This past Valentine’s Day, a German newspaper reported on the recall of a metal-on-metal hip replacement system manufactured by DePuy Orthopaedics, which operates under the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) banner. The “Adept” brand is not available in the US and does not carry approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, the Adept system is available in Germany and 20 other countries. The recall has affected an infinite number of people around the world, and will undoubtedly lead to many a hip replacement lawsuit.

The Star-Ledger (2/17/13) of Newark, New Jersey reported on the recall as revealed by the German publication Handelsblatt(2/1/4/13). It was reported that J&J pulled the trigger on Adept following a review of data from national registries on joint replacements in two of the 21 countries in which Adept was marketed. According to Handelsblatt, a joint registry in the UK reported 12.1 percent of patients required an implant replacement within seven years, with a registry in Australia identified a 7.1 percent replacement rate within three years.

The hip replacement implant failure recall was announced by J&J on January 14 of this year.

It was reported that the recall involves just the top part of the Adept system, identified as the ball at the top of the thighbone fitting into the hip socket. According to a statement by J&J, the recall does not involve a product known as Adept Hip Resurfacing Femoral Components.

The Star-Ledger notes that this latest recall comes just two-and-a-half years following a massive recall of other types of artificial hips. J&J has also issued in excess of 30 product recalls since 2009, according to the report. The pharmaceutical and medical device juggernaut recalled two products under the DePuy ASR banner in the US after the metal-on-metal hips were linked to higher-then-anticipated failure rates.

Typical of the thousands of lawsuits stemming from the US ASR recall is that of Loren Kransky, a 64-year-old former North Dakota prison guard who testified to jurors that black flakes of metal from his failed implant contributed to metal toxicity in his body. The Kransky trial began hearing testimony last month in Los Angeles.
Many a hip replacement lawsuit has alleged metal toxicity of the blood, pain and swelling around the joint, fluid buildup and a breakdown of muscle tissue around the joint.

Similar allegations have been made in association with many a knee replacement lawsuit, with all-metal knees also exhibiting high failure rates.

Kransky is perusing his lawsuit with the help of a hip replacement lawyer. The case is Kransky v. DePuy, BC456086, California Superior Court, Los Angeles. Bloomberg News (1/29/13) reports it is the first of 10,000 lawsuits to go to trial.