Like more than 90,000 other people around the world, Howard Brown, a resident of Sandgate in Queensland, Australia put his trust in DePuy Orthopaedics and received one of their all-metal hip implants in July 2008. The 67-year-old retiree looked forward to a better quality of life the supposedly durable implants offered, but shortly after surgery his health took a turn for the worst.
Mr. Brown told Australia’s Newcastle Herald that about a year ago his health took a turn for the worst, starting with burning sensations in his leg that he said would “virtually bring tears to my eyes.” Particles of cobalt released by the metal-on-metal hip implants caused him to develop an uncomfortable rash under his arms and around his groin.
After hearing about the DePuy recalls, Mr. Brown received a series of x-rays and ultrasounds that revealed a tumor has developed on the DePuy hip implant and that the bone around his pelvis had disintegrated.
Pain and poor health aside, Mr. Brown told the Newcastle Tribune, “The biggest thing I’m cranky about is that DePuy knew about the problem in 2007 … and they were still supplying [the defective implants] and they weren’t taken off the market until 2010.”
Mr. Brown underwent a revision surgery in March to replace the defective hip implant with another model, but he is still coping with the problems his original DePuy hip system caused. The Newcastle Herald says that Mr. Howard and his wife have been communicating with a law firm that is leading a class action suit against DePuy currently involving some 400 plaintiffs from across Australia seeking damages allegedly caused by the devices.
About 5,000 of the faulty DePuy implants were implanted in Australian patients before they were recalled, so the probability that the class action will grow is high. A lawyer for the firm leading Australia’s class action told the Newcastle Herald that DePuy hip implant recipients suffer “Everything from tissue necrosis to alarmingly high levels of cobalt and chromium,” explaining that the “metal particles wear away from the device for and into the blood and cerebral fluid. Common health complaints for the plaintiffs include pain, inflammation, bone fractures, clicking sounds, painful dislocations, tissue and muscle damage, infection, to name but a few.
In a statement to the Newcastle Herald, DePuy said that it regretted the impact that the recall has had on patients, their families, and surgeons.