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Sulzer Medica sees no basis for punitive damages

Sulzer Orthopaedics recalled its faulty hip implants Keystone Archive

The medical technology company, Sulzer Medica, said on Wednesday that it does not expect to face punitive damages against its United States subsidiary, Sulzer Orthopaedics, following its recent recall of defective hip implants.

In a statement, the company said it had inspected the devices and withdrawn them from the market as soon as the fault was detected. “Clearly, punitive damages are not appropriate in the Sulzer litigation,” said the statement.

Sulzer Medica is faced with lawsuits in the US for allegedly failing to warn thousands of patients about the dangers of the hip-replacement implant.

Some 650 patients have had surgery to replace the faulty parts, a major operation that generally requires up to three months of recovery. In total, 17,500 of the recalled Inter-Op acetabular hip shells were implanted into patients.

Hundreds of patients are suing Sulzer for their suffering, lost wages and other hardships while lawyers in some national court cases are seeking class-action status.

Sulzer Medica announced the voluntary recall of the implant last December after it found trace amounts of oil had not been cleaned from the implants during manufacture at the company’s Austin plant.

The company’s share price came under pressure following reports that the company could be hit by large claims for punitive damages over the faulty implants.

However, the share price recovered somewhat after last week’s decision by shareholders in parent company, Sulzer, to make the company fully independent this year. Sulzer currently owns 74 per cent of Sulzer Medica.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR