Pioneering claimants take on hip implant manufacturers

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Oct 10, 2017
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Patients allege that faulty implants caused metal particles to be released into their muscles

Bernd Vogel

Hundreds of patients affected by allegedly faulty metal-on-metal hip implants are seeking to bring claims against the manufacturers.

A High Court hearing listed for next week is understood to be one of the largest product liability group actions in the UK. It is also one of the first group claims against a manufacturer that has been taken to court in this country over allegations relating to the failure of metal-on-metal hip implants.

Hundreds more metal-on-metal claims against several other manufacturers are stayed awaiting the outcome of this case against the manufacturer DePuy over its Pinnacle Ultamet hip implants. The claims are being brought by the London law firm Leigh Day on behalf of more than 300 individuals who claim to have been injured as a result of the early failure and consequent revision surgery of their metal-on-metal prosthetic hips.

Lawyers will argue that their clients have been affected by the release of metal particles from the implants, which can lead to severe soft tissue reactions and muscle necrosis. Those affected allege that their symptoms included pain, difficulty walking, swelling and numbness or loss of sensation in the leg. All those taking legal action have had early revision surgery to have the components replaced. 

Bozena Michalowska Howells, the Leigh Day partner leading the claim, said the legal team had spent five years preparing the claim. She said her clients “believe that the Pinnacle device has failed to deliver on the level of safety they were entitled to expect. As a result of this failure, they have suffered pain and early revision surgery which we believe would have been avoided had they been implanted with a conventional hip product.”

A statement from DePuy said: “The device is backed by a strong record of clinical data showing reduced pain and restored mobility for patients suffering from chronic hip pain. We are committed to the long-term defence of the allegations in this litigation.”

The trial will start on October 16 and is expected to last until the end of January.

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