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Scandal prompts sweeping changes at Sulzer Medica

Sulzer Medica is facing some 800 lawsuits in the United States


Sulzer Medica has revamped its entire orthopaedics division in the midst of a scandal over the recall of faulty hip and knee implants. The boss of the unit responsible has left the company, which is facing potentially crippling lawsuits in the United States.

Announcing a raft of sweeping changes on Thursday, Sulzer Medica said the head of the joint and fracture care unit, Gary Sabins, would be leaving the company, and that the unit would be split in two.

The changes which come into effect immediately follow Medica's recall of faulty hip and knee joints, which have exposed the firm to some 800 lawsuits in the US.

Around 2,100 patients have already undergone revision surgery to replace the faulty hip joints, which failed to bond properly because they were contaminated with traces of lubricants.

The company revealed on Wednesday that a further 100 patients had also received remedial surgery for faulty knee joints.

Concerns about the extent of Medica's litigation liabilities have sent its shares plummeting - they fell by as much as 80 per cent from highs this year, but have recovered some ground in recent weeks.

The revamp means that Medica will divide the joint and fracture care unit so that a Swiss-based staff runs the business in Europe, Asia and Latin America, while a Texas-based business oversees operations in the US.

"The new organisation enables our joint and fracture care business unit to better meet the needs of our core markets in orthopaedics," said chairman and chief executive Max Link.

He added that Medica was "strongly committed" to its orthopaedics business, despite the problems associated with the recall.

Sulzer Medica is 74 per cent owned by the Swiss industrial group, Sulzer, but is scheduled to be spun off next Tuesday.
Richard Fritschi, previously general manager of markets at Sulzer Orthopaedics, will become president of the Europe, Asia and Latin America unit, while David Floyd, formerly deputy head of the joint and fracture unit will become president of the US unit.

swissinfo with agencies


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