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Patients to sue over faulty DePuy hip and knee implants

Nigel Hunt From: Sunday Mail (SA) May 28, 2011 10:00PM

MORE than 100 South Australians with defective DePuy hip and knee implants will launch a class action.

The Federal Court action against medical manufacturer DePuy Orthopaedics next month is the first in SA against the company, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, which is already facing multi-million dollar lawsuits involving the implants in NSW, the US and UK.

Bob Perry of Banksia Park has had both hips replaced — with faulty implants. Picture: Brenton Edwards Source: Sunday Mail (SA)

The victims have suffered various health problems after their metal-on-metal implants started degrading, resulting in high levels of cobalt and chromium in their blood or pain and severe inflammation from metal particles in tissue around their implant.

The implants were recalled by the company in 2008 but not before more than 6000 people had them used in their hip or knee replacement operations.

Duncan Basheer Hannon lawyer Peter Humphries said many of the victims had already undergone replacement surgery – which has been paid for by the company – to remove the faulty orthopaedics. “In many of the cases the victims have suffered tremendously after having their surgery, in most instances to repair their hip joints,” he said.

“The effects have been variable with some having revisions surgery to replace the faulty implants while others are still experiencing problems ranging from inflammation in the hip caused by the metal particles floating around in there.

“Even those who do not have an immediate problem with their implant have in some cases extraordinary high levels of cobalt and chromium in their blood – in some cases hundreds of times higher than the recommended level. These are people who will almost certainly need to have their hip implants removed in the future.”

Mr Humphries said the class action would rely on state legislation involving consumer protection and the Fair Trading Act that does not have the same restrictions as federal consumer protection legislation.

One of those involved in the class action, Bob Perry, 67, of Banksia Park, said he had been in constant pain since having both hips replaced in late 2007.

His operations were conducted at Sportsmed SA by surgeon Dr Roger Oakeshott, who also helped design the faulty implants.

Mr Perry said his lifestyle had been severely impacted since the operations and he was forced to use painkillers each day.

He said he only recently learnt there had already been complaints about the implants before his two operations in 2007, which had distressed him.

“If I had known the implants were already in question there is no way I would have had them put in.”

huntn@sundaymail.com.au

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