British MPs have called for an investigation into DePuy Orthopaedics after testimony from a U.S. court case revealed that the medical device company continued to sell defective artificial hip implants despite knowing for at least three years they were toxic to patients.
DePuy, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, recalled the ASR hip replacement system and hip resurfacing system after mounting reports that the device was failing at a higher than expected rate. The recall affected an estimated 93,000 people worldwide.
The DePuy device was made to be more durable with all-metal parts, as opposed to plastic or ceramic parts in traditional hip implants. But the material proved to be the fatal flaw. As the metal parts of the ASR device rubbed together, bits of metal debris can be released into the joint space, which may cause tissue damage and inflammation. This may accelerate the loosening, fracturing or dislocation of the devices, requiring premature revision surgery to remove and replace the devices.
In some cases, metal ions can be leeched into the bloodstream causing a type of blood poisoning known as metallosis. Researchers say metallosis could lead to serious health complications including cancer.
European regulators have already recommended that metal-on-metal hip implants no longer be used by surgeons because of the high failure rates and complications associated with the devices. Numerous lawsuits have been filed against DePuy and Johnson & Johnson.
A case now unfolding in the U.S. brought to light documents that showed DePuy was repeatedly warned about the defective design of the devices and had even planned to redesign the implant before it was ultimately recalled.
“If a company would knowingly do this then where does the buck stop?” Andrew Miller, Labour MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, told The Telegraph. Miller is also chairman of the Science and Technology Committee. “I think it’s a question of a criminal inquiry rather than a civil one.”
Source: The Telegraph