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Sulzer Medica says 1,850 affected by implant recall

The faulty hip replacement is manufactured by Medica subsidiary Sulzer Orthopedics in Austin, Texas Keystone Archive

Sulzer Medica says it expects some 1,850 patients to have to undergo revision surgery, as a result of its ongoing recall of faulty hip implants. A Medica spokesman said the company did not expect the number of revision operations to increase significantly, because problems with the faulty implants tended to emerge within six months of surgery.

This content was published on June 14, 2001 - 07:23

Medica started the recall last year after it became aware of a fault in its Inter-Op implants. Most patients affected are in the United States.

Last month the medical technology group said it was not fully insured to cover the costs of surgery to replace the faulty implants.

A Sulzer Medica spokesman said at the time that the company was speaking to its insurers about how to proceed in the case.

Uncertainty over the cost of the recall, put by some analysts at up to SFr1 billion ($560 million), has hit shares in Sulzer Medica, pushing them to a year low of SFr131.75 on Tuesday.

Medica says it has changed its manufacturing process to prevent the problem from recurring and was checking other products as well.

By the end of April, 522 lawsuits had been filed in the US relating to problems with the implant, more than 90 per cent of them individual lawsuits.

The company has already rejected as "unjustified" allegations seeking the payment by Sulzer Orthopedics of punitive damages as a result of the product recall.

The orthopedics subsidiary, based in the city of Austin in Texas, initiated the voluntary hip replacement last December and said it would cover patients' out-of-pocket medical costs.

Switzerland's Sulzer group holds 74 per cent of Sulzer Medica. However, at the last annual general meeting, Sulzer shareholders decided to spin-off the Medica unit. This is currently being implemented according to plan for finalisation this summer.

swissinfo with agencies

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