Just how many people around the world have “needlessly” suffered injuries stemming from the DePuy ASR hip recall?

Whatever the actual number is, it’s too many, says the United Kingdom’s Science and Technology Committee. That’s because the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has had too slow a reaction in acknowledging the dangers of metal-on-metal implants, allowing manufacturers to continue to sell their products, the group said in a Western Mail article dated Nov.1.

In turn, people keep receiving the hip replacements, and suffering metallosis, which occurs when metallic shards from the device break off and seeps into the patient’s bloodstream, early implant failure, chronic pain and other side effects.

The author noted that even though the DePuy ASR hip recall was issued in August 2010, problems with the implants were seen in Australia as early as 2007. Officials there responded by removing the devices, manufactured by DePuy Orthopaedics, in December 2009. So why did it take other countries another eight months to do the same?

The Altogether Hip Patient Support Group, comprised of people who received faulty implants, said the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) “seems to be a totally ineffective body working on behalf of the corporations rather than patients.”

What’s more, a recent investigation by the Daily Telegraph and British Medical Journal suggests the process in place for testing and approving new hip implants may be equally subpar. As part of the investigation released Oct. 29, an undercover team designed a metal implant similar to the DePuy ASR, and distributed it for approval to 14 regulatory agencies in Europe. Despite finding problems with the device, which included high levels of metal toxicity in a patient’s body, one agency granted it permission to be sold.

More than 6,000 DePuy hip recall lawsuits are currently pending in courts around the U.S. For the federal multidistrict litigation being coordinated in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, the first bellwether trials have been scheduled for May 6, 2013 and July 8, 2013.

Published November 7, 2012 by