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The third bellwether trial in the DePuy Pinnacle hip implant litigation kicked off late September 2016 in the Northern District of Texas. The six lawsuits consolidated into the bellwether trial are only a few of the cases in the multi-district litigation (“MDL”) similarly alleging that the Pinnacle Hip Replacement System is defective and caused severe pain and other complications, including metal poisoning. Roughly 8,500 cases are pending in the MDL.

Hip Replacement Problems Litigation

It is estimated that over 500,000 people received metal-on-metal hip implants over the last 10 years in the U.S. alone. The dangers associated with these devices—which fail at an alarming rate—are well documented. The metal-on-metal movement inside the human body can cause the release of tiny metal particles, damaging the surrounding soft tissue and bone, and sometimes entering the bloodstream causing other systemic health issues. Failure often requires revision surgery to remove or replace the implant.

In an effort to make the public aware of the dangers of metal-on-metal hip implants, the FDA launched a webpage in 2011 to provide safety communications to patients, orthopedic surgeons, and health care providers about potential risks of metal-on-metal hip implants. Regulators in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia have also issued safety warnings about the devices.

The sky-high failure rates of metal-on-metal hip implants are evidenced by the number of revision surgeries and thousands of lawsuits brought by injured plaintiffs. There are two types of metal-on-metal hip implants: traditional total hip replacement systems and resurfacing hip systems. According to a 2012 investigative report in the esteemed British Medical Journal, average failure rates at seven years were 11.8% for resurfacing hip systems and 13.6% for total hip replacement systems (with some variance among brands), as compared to rates of 3.3%-4.9% for hip implants made from other materials. The FDA received more than 12,000 complaints in 2011 alone relating to these devices.

The FDA describes the detrimental effects that can result when metal-on-metal hip implants fail in this way:

“Soft tissue damage may lead to pain, implant loosening, device failure and the need for revision surgery (a surgical procedure where the implant is removed and another is put in its place). Some of the metal ions released will enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body, where they may cause symptoms or illnesses elsewhere in the body (systemic reactions).”

Despite being touted by their manufacturers as a medical breakthrough in safety and functionality, the British Medical Journal investigative report noted above found metal-on-metal hip implants do not appear to be more effective or durable and, in fact, seem to pose more risks than older implants made with different materials:

Despite the fact that these risks have been known and well documented for decades, patients have been kept in the dark about their participation in what has effectively been a large uncontrolled experiment.

Which Hip Replacement Systems are Affected by the Problem?

Many of the affected hip replacement systems include:

  • M2a Magnum – Biomet
  • Stanmore – Biomet
  • Exceed ABT – Biomet
  • ASR XL Acetabular System – DePuy Orthopaedics
  • ASR Hip Resurfacing System – DePuy Orthopaedics
  • R3 Acetabular System – Smith & Nephew
  • ABG II Modular Hip System – Stryker
  • Rejuvenate – Stryker
  • Conserve Plus – Wright Medical Technology
  • Durom Cup – Zimmer Holdings

Some of these products have been voluntarily recalled. Others remain on the market despite the FDA’s safety alerts and widespread failure and resulting injuries. Some manufacturers have already paid millions, even billions, to settle thousands of claims by plaintiffs.

What Does this Mean for You?

If you have experienced complications after the insertion of a metal-on-metal hip implant, including having had or planning to have revision surgery to remove or replace the device, you may be legally entitled to compensation for medical costs, loss of income, and other damages.

Want to Know if You Have a Valid Legal Claim?

G&E is investigating the safety risks of metal-on-metal hip implants and is monitoring ongoing developments of hip replacement litigation. If you or a loved one has experienced complications after receiving a metal-on-metal hip implant, please contact us by submitting the form, or by calling us at 877-790-3588 for a confidential evaluation of your potential claim.

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