Friday, April 22, 2011

Congressional Hearings on DePuy Hip Devices

On April 13, 2011, the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging conducted a hearing that focused on the DePuy ASR hip replacement recall and the role the FDA played in allowing this untested and dangerous product on the market.

The first witness to speak was Katherine Korgaokar, who was implanted with a defective DePuy ASR hip device. After learning of DePuy’s recall, Ms. Korgaokar underwent blood tests that found that her metal ions were 1,000% higher than they should be. Because of the extremely negative health effects of high cobalt and chromium levels in her body, her doctor recommended that she undergo a painful revision surgery to remove the recalled hip device.

Ms. Korgaokar’s testimony about the difficulty in recovering from the revision surgery is familiar to the thousands of patients who are in her shoes:

“The recovery from this second operation has been substantially more difficult than my first. The pain is much worse and it has been extremely difficult to get around. Only recently has my mobility improved to the point where I no longer need crutches. For the past three months I have essentially been confined to my home trying to get through this.”

The Government Accountability Office also testified about its findings in a recent report that found that the FDA is lacking in its ability to adequately protect the public from dangerous medical devices such as the DePuy ASR hip replacement. Among other things, the GAO found that:

“shortcomings in FDA’s oversight of the medical device recall process may limit the agency’s ability to ensure that the highest risk recalls are being implemented in an effective and timely manner. These shortcomings span the entire range of the agency’s oversight activities–from the lack of a broad-based program to systematically assess trends in recalls, to inconsistencies in the way FDA ensures the effective completion of individual recalls.”

Since DePuy was forced to recall the defective ASR hip implants in August, an MDL was formed to handle those lawsuits. Attorneys who have filed lawsuits on behalf of clients who have been injured by DePuy’s Pinnacle Hip System have petitioned the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation that all of the federal DePuy Pinnacle lawsuits be consolidated and centralized before a single District Judge. If the panel agrees to form a DePuy Pinnacle MDL, a new MDL will be formed that will solely focus on DePuy Pinnacle lawsuits.

This MDL will function in a similar manner as the MDL for ASR’s. All discovery and pretrial motions will be consolidated under one District Judge and the lawsuits will revert back to their original districts for trial, if necessary. Injuries from the Pinnacle Hip System are similar to ASR injuries: pain, swelling, inflammation and metal poisoning. High levels of cobalt and chromium found in blood and urine samples are causing the most alarm as metallosis can cause rashes, soft-tissue damage and pseudo-tumors.

If you or a loved one have had hip replacement surgery and have been implanted with a defective DePuy hip, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and other injuries. Our firm is currently investigating claims for those people who have been implanted with DePuy hip replacement devices, both ASR and Pinnacle. If you would like a free case evaluation, please contact Chris Hellums at toll free 1-866-515-8880 or at