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Product Liability

St. Louis DePuy Hip Replacement Lawyers

Metal-on-Metal Hip Claims

In 2005, Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., began selling the ASR hip replacement in the United States. The hip replacement system consists of a rounded metal piece, known as the head or ball, that sits inside a metal lining. In the human body, the head attaches to the top of femur, which is the long bone in the thigh that starts in the hip. The metal liner attaches to the inside of the hip joint, and together the two pieces replace the natural hip joint. DePuy hip replacements were used to replace the hip joint in patients who had severe pain or damage in the joint.

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When DePuy released its ASR hip replacement in 2005, it did so after getting a “501(k) clearance” from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This clearance meant that the company could sell the replacement without putting it through clinical trials first. Patients who began receiving the hip replacement were receiving a joint replacement that had not been as thoroughly tested as other implanted devices.

Not long after they were introduced in 2005, the hip implant devices began to fail, leaving patients with severe pain, weakness, and swelling in their hips. Some patient developed tumors around the implant, and some found that metal fragments from the replacement were entering their bloodstreams, increasing their risk of blood clots and heavy metal poisoning.

In 2008 alone, the FDA received 400 complaints from patients whose DePuy hip replacements had suffered “catastrophic failure.” Thirteen percent of those who had an ASR replacement device installed had required additional surgery to repair or replace the failed hip joint – a failure rate much higher than most hip replacements, and one that the FDA considers unacceptably high. In that same year, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency found “evidence of genetic damage” in patients who had DePuy hip replacement devices.

In 2009, DePuy took the ASR hip replacements off the Australian market, but kept selling them in the United States. DePuy did not phase out the sale of these defective hip replacements systems in the U.S. until the end of 2010.

Symptoms of a defective DePuy ASR hip replacement include pain in the hip that gets worse or does not go away. Pain may occur when walking, sitting, moving from sitting down to standing or vice versa, and when trying to put weight on the hip. If metal from the device enters the bloodstream, patients may develop asceptic lymphocyte-dominated vasculitis associated lesion, or ALVAL. ALVAL occurs when the body reacts to the metal bits by creating tumorlike growths all over the body. Blood tests or x-rays can help your doctor determine if you have ALVAL.

In some patients, the ASR hip replacement device undergoes total failure. When total failure happens, the device may actually fall apart inside the body. The implant may come loose from the bone, and the femur may break as a result. Total failures often result in extreme pain and incapacitation.

About one in eight patients with a DePuy ASR hip replacement will need to have additional surgery to remove and replace the device. These surgeries put the patient and the family under added physical and financial stress, and patients who have them may still have to adapt to limited mobility or other disabilities caused by the defective hip replacement.

If you believe you have a defective DePuy ASR hip replacement, speak to your physician as soon as possible. Then, don’t hesitate to call our experienced St. Louis defective medical products attorneys. We will help you understand your legal rights and options and decide whether seeking compensation is the best step for you and your family. To learn more, call Page Law any time, day or night, at (314) 322-8515.

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