Metal-on-Metal Hip Manufacturers Defend Claims of Metal Poisoning
After a 2-day panel meeting in June 2012, the FDA established new recommendations for patients suffering from complications of metal-on-metal (MoM) implants like the Zimmer Durom Cup. The panel concluded that MoM implants were no better than metal-on-plastic implants, and may be associated with poorer outcomes.
Zimmer hip problems may include pseudotumors, lesions, implant failures, metal ion contamination, and other injuries requiring revision surgery. Because of these issues, many patients have filed a Zimmer hip replacement lawsuit to recover damages including medical expenses and economic losses.
In addition to Zimmer, other manufacturers of MoM implants have found themselves defending lawsuits brought by injured plaintiffs. One of these is Smith & Nephew. Their Birmingham MoM system has recently come under fire because of claims of metal poisoning.
California man claims metal blood poisoning
California resident William Reilly brought a new lawsuit against Smith & Nephew on September 12, 2012. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. Reilly said he was implanted with the Birmingham in May 2007, and about four years later, in October 2011, was diagnosed with metal blood poisoning. Reilly’s doctor told him that he will need to undergo revision surgery.
The Birmingham was actually the first MoM implant to gain FDA approval in the US. In 2007, the company recalled about 185 of the implants because of improper packaging by a subcontractor, but otherwise the device remains on the market. Like other MoM options, however, it continues to be associated with problems leading to early revision surgery.
No Zimmer hip recall
Approved by the FDA in 2006, the Zimmer Durom Cup is another MoM device that was marketed as providing superior durability than metal-on-plastic devices. Reports of problems with the device began as early as 2007, however, when Dr. Lawrence Dorr alerted the company to Zimmer hip problems like premature loosening and high failure rates.
In response to Dr. Dorr’s continued alerts and the increase in patients filing a Zimmer hip replacement lawsuit, the company withdrew the product from the market in 2008. Unlike the 2010 DePuy ASR hip recall, however, which permanently removed the defective ASR from the market, the temporary Zimmer hip recall lasted only a month, after which the company re-released the product on the market with updated surgical instructions.
Zimmer had concluded that the product was not defective, and that early failures were due to surgical error.
Zimmer hip replacement lawsuit
In his Smith & Nephew lawsuit, Reilly brings counts of negligence, breach of warranties, strict product liability, and false representation. These are similar to the claims brought in a Zimmer hip implant lawsuit, where plaintiffs allege that the company failed to warn of the complications, and continued to sell the implant despite reports of defects.