Hundreds of patients have lost the first round of a legal battle for compensation at the High Court over allegedly “defective” hip implants.
A judge ruled that manufacturer DePuy was not liable to the 312 patients who claimed they had been injured by the implants.
Claimants say the metal-on-metal hips were defective and meant some patients needed more surgery than necessary.
The Pinnacle Ultamet replacement was withdrawn from sale in the UK in 2013.
And 312 people said they had had to have remedial surgery after it had failed prematurely.
Lawyers for claimants alleged it had released metal particles, damaging the surrounding tissues and causing pain, difficulty walking, swelling and numbness or loss of sensation in the leg.
But Mrs Justice Andrews said they had failed to prove the hip joint:
- “did not meet the level of safety that the public generally were entitled to expect at the time when it entered the market in 2002”
- “carried with it an ‘abnormal risk’ of damage, as alleged”
And DePuy said it was “pleased” the implant had:
- “met the standard of safety under the Consumer Protection Act and performed as well or better than other prostheses that were on the market at the time”
- been “backed by a strong record of clinical data showing reduced pain and restored mobility for patients suffering from chronic hip pain”
“At DePuy, we have no greater responsibility than to the patients who use our products,” it added.
But lawyers for the claimants, Leigh Day, said they were “extremely disappointed” by the judgement and were in touch with their clients “to see what next steps could be taken”.
“It is genuinely concerning that the DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip replacement, which no clinician would now use, from a product group the orthopaedic profession has rejected for the serious harm it can cause, is deemed safe by this judgement,” they said.
Last year, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said every patient with a metal-on-metal prosthetic hip should have regular check-ups to spot any complications.
“Although the majority of patients with these metal-on-metal devices have well-functioning hips, it is known some may develop soft tissue reactions related to their implant.
“The clinical advice we have received indicates patients will likely have the best outcomes if these problems are detected early, monitored and treated if necessary,” the MHRA said when it updated its advice in 2017.
About 56,000 UK patients have had a metal-on-metal hip device implanted.