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Centerpulse claws back US market share

An implant gets a quality check at Centerpulse

(Keystone Archive)

The Swiss medical devices firm, Centerpulse, has managed to recover some lost ground in the United States after settling a lengthy litigation battle over faulty implants.

The firm, which changed its name from Sulzer Medica partly to improve its image, said its market share in the US rose by over 12 per cent in nominal terms in the third quarter.

Europe's largest maker of orthopaedics products saw net profits climb by 9.8 per cent in the third quarter to SFr22.7 million ($15.5 million) on sales of SFr332 million.

Analysts had been expecting a slightly better result, leading to a drop in the company's share price. But the firm's stock has more than quadrupled in value this year as its costly litigation worries have slowly been resolved.

Class-action settlement

Centerpulse this week reached an agreement with 16 patients who had opted out of a class-action settlement relating to faulty hip and knee implants.

It has already settled 3,700 claims in a class-action suit, leaving just 43 claims outstanding. The company said its liability for the remaining claims was likely to be limited since none had needed revision surgery to replace the implants.

Centerpulse has been keen to stress that the litigation is now behind it, and the company's future prospects are healthy. It said orthopaedics business generated sales growth of 10.4 per cent in the third quarter, and its business in the US was doing well.

On Monday, the firm transferred $725 million to a trust fund for the claimants of the class-action suit, who will each receive on average $200,000.

The company recalled thousands of implants in December 2000 after they were found to be contaminated with an oily residue, preventing them from bonding with patients' bones.

swissinfo with agencies

Centerpulse facts

Centerpulse this week settled nearly all claims in a long-running litigation battle over faulty implants.
Its share price has risen four fold this year as the extent of its liability has become clear.
The company changed its name in June in a move to distance itself from the implant saga.
It first recalled the faulty implants in December 2000.

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