Profits for Stryker, a medical device manufacturing giant, have taken a 2.3 percent cut year-over-year when projections had predicted they’d be up by 14.1 percent. This is likely due to the number of lawsuits regarding the company’s Rejuvenate or ABG II modular metal-on-metal neck hip stems.
Information about the earnings came about a month after Stryker announced that Howmedica Osteonics, its subsidiary, had reached a settlement with patients who required revision surgery to correct problems with their new Rejuvenate or ABG II metal-on-metal hips.
The metal-on-metal hip implant designs, made by a number of medical device manufacturers such as Wright Medical, DePuy Orthopaedics and its parent company Johnson & Johnson; Smith & Nephew, and Zimmer Biomet Holdings, are made up of a cobalt-chromium alloy, which has been known to shed metal debris. The debris may damage and kill the surrounding tissue and pollute the bloodstream, putting the patient at risk for cobalt poisoning.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) added cobalt and cobalt compounds to its list of cancer-causing substances in its 14th Report on Carcinogens (RoC), a public health document that is science-based with a congressional mandate. Per the report, “intracellular release of cobalt ions from particles” is a key event related to toxicity and carcinogenicity, as seen the cases of metal-on-metal hip implant failure.
Furthermore, a recent study found a 10- to 20-fold increase in cobalt and chromium levels in patients with metal-on-metal implants, many of whom have suffered from cobalt poisoning. Those symptoms include blindness, deafness, numbness of the hands and feet, and weakness that have forced them to be wheelchair bound.