Faulty Hips

Reporter: Damien Hansen

 

Thousands of Australian are being slowly poisoned by fauly medical devices implanted by Australian surgeons. Today Tonight told you about the damage being caused by the Johnson and Johnson hip replacements last year. Now as concern spreads worldwide, we uncover other brands that experts fear are ticking time bombs.

Poisoned by something meant to make him better, 40 year old father of three, Stuart Cain wants answers from a pharmaceutical giant.

"I've had three failed surgeries now that have resulted in the knowledge that it is going to happen again. If you have a metal on metal implant in your body and it doesn't matter if it was manufactured by Johnson and Johnson or any other company that has marketed that technology it has to come out because it will inevitably destroy your health", said Stuart..

The once active Brisbane nurse is one of more than 1,000 Australians taking legal action over their faulty replacement hips.

The ASR metal on metal hip replacement device was recalled in August 2010. Rebecca Jankaukas from Shine Lawyers is representing victims bringing a class action lawsuit against the multi-national pharmaceutical company, Johnson and Johnson. But she says many more are now potentially at risked.

"Anyone who gets a hip replacement expects that it's going to last, they expect that it's going to improve their quality of life, not make them sick. What we are seeing is persistent increase in complaints from Australians with other varieties of metal on metal hip. Patients with such products as: the Global Icon hip, the Smith and Nephew hip, and the De Puy Pinnacle hip. These patients are suffering the same issues that the De Puy ASR recipients are.

Rebecca adds, "Last week we saw another brand of metal on metal hip. The Mitch component recalled by the TGA and arguably there are several varieties of metal on metal hip on the Australian market which should be recalled and I would urge our regulator to examine each of these brands and make a call on whether Australians' health is at risk".

Jennifer Cotman is pleading for the Du Puy Pinnacle hip she was implanted with to be recalled after blood tests found high levels of potentially toxic metals in her blood steam.

"I don't want to end up in a wheel chair if they have to mess around with it so you need some answers", said Jennifer.

It remains on the market.

Stuart said, "I've gone from being a full time employee, a dedicated person that works in the community and being a head trainer of a football club and is an active family member with my family to this chair".

Investigators in the UK have uncovered an internal Johnson and Johnson memo that suggests they were aware of the potential risk of toxicity to patients as far back as 2005.

In their statement: "In addition to inducing potential changes in immune function, there has been concern for some time that wear debris may be carcinogenic."

"The mechanism is not known and only 24 local malignancies have been reported in patients with joint replacements. Also worrying is the possibility of distant effects."

But most alarming is the mention of one study indicating there was a three-fold risk of patients developing lymphoma and leukaemia up to 10 years after joint replacement.

"It makes me furious but also devastated the fact the information was available and readily available to not only the surgeons but the people that were marketing the product and they continued to sell it", said Stuart.

According to Karen, Stuart's wife, "They knew and they still risked putting these in people after they knew they were having problems with them. Our whole life has changed walks along the beach we can't do that because of the sand swimming in the surf we can't do that anymore"

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Five and half thousand Australians have been implanted with the Du Puy ASR metal on metal hip and like Stuart they face an uncertain future.

Jennifer

"This is a clear case of a company putting profits ahead of people and here it's taken a devastating toll on thousands of Australian", said Rebecca.