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Recent Foreign Media Investigations Highlight Failure of DePuy ASR Hip Implant

Foreign media outlets in both the UK and Australia have recently published articles and videos documenting the failure of the DePuy ASR hip implant and the horrible effects it has had on patients around the world.

One of the articles, ” Out of Joint: The Story of the ASR,” published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), covers the downfall of the ASR device in great detail. The other article, which is shorter, is entitled ” Patients Reveal Agony of Toxic Hip Implants,” written by ABC News of Australia. Both articles have excellent video clips. Highlights from the articles include:

  • Questions raised about DePuy’s laboratory simulation practices. While marketing the ASR device, DePuy salespeople frequently showed photos from laboratory simulations to orthopedic surgeons. The photos showed the fluid used to lubricate hip implants used in the simulation, one of which was a DePuy ASR device and the other that of a main competitor. Both devices went through thousands of simulated steps in the laboratory.

    The photos used by the salespeople showed that the DePuy fluid was much clearer than that of the competitors, suggesting that the DePuy device emitted fewer cobalt and chromium ions with wear. But, as the BMJ article points out, the DePuy photo appears to have been taken after the fluid was changed—meaning it was just a photo of a new, clean fluid. As many doctors have said, these were convincing photographs in their decision to use the ASR device.

  • Blaming surgeons. When marketing the ASR device, DePuy intentionally sought out doctors who were respected in the field of hip replacement, in hopes that they would become advocates for the ASR device. One of those doctors was Mr. Tony Nargol of North Tees, a hospital in the UK (in the UK, doctors are referred to as “Mr.” as opposed to “Dr.”).

    After Mr. Nargol used the device for 3 years, and found it to have a higher than normal failure rate, he reported his findings to DePuy. DePuy’s response, however, was not to admit possible fault in its ASR device. Instead, it decided to blame the surgical technique of Mr. Nargol—the same doctor it actively pursued just a few years before, and an eminent surgeon.

  • Toxic side effects. While the science and research regarding the impacts of metallic ions on the human body is still developing, the ABC News article highlights stories of Australians who were implanted with the ASR device. The metallic ions and the body’s reaction to them in one man ate away at his thigh bone. Another woman suffered years of inexplicable illness. No doubt countless other patients, abroad and in the United States, are suffering from similar problems caused by the ASR device.

The foreign press in particular has distinguished itself with excellent, in-depth coverage of the DePuy ASR failure. Hopefully that trend will spread to the United States.

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