Sulzer recalls hip implants

Sulzer is seeking to reassure hip implant patients Keystone

At least 129 people who received artificial hip implants from Sulzer Orthopedics have suffered complications due to a fault in the manufacturing process. The company has recalled 25,000 implants as a result of the scare.

This content was published on January 19, 2001 minutes

Sulzer Orthopedics - a United States subsidiary of the Swiss firm, Sulzer Medica - issued the recall after detecting a fault during the manufacturing process.

The company said traces oflubricant residue were not completely removed from the surface. The residue could lead to complications, in particular to a loosening of the hip shell.

Reported symptoms include severe groin pain and inability to bear weight on the affected leg.

A Sulzer Medica spokesman, Henner Alms, told swissinfo that the company is now aware of "about 200 people who have been affected" by the defect.

About 17,500 patients received the recalled parts - 90 per cent of whom were in the United States.

Other implants were carried out in Japan (300), Australia (50), Canada (800), Korea (20), Sweden (50) and Brasil (unknown).

It is not clear how many people will have to undergo surgery for the removal of the part. Sulzer Orthopedics has said it will pay surgical costs, including those of people who are not insured.

The news sent Sulzer Medica's share price tumbling on the Swiss stock exchange on Friday - it fell by as much as 10 per cent.

Sulzer spokesman, Henner Alms, told swissinfo that he predicts "Sulzer will lose more market shares in the future", and that physicians and patients will "lose confidence" in the company.

He added that it is still too early to tell how much the recall will cost the company overall.

Sulzer Orthopedics' surgeon advisers do not recommend that patients undergo removal of the part unless they show loosening symptoms.

The president of Sulzer Orthopedics, Gary Sabins, said in a statement that the company had introduced a series of new cleaning procedures in the manufacturing process.

"We believe we have taken every conceivable step to safeguard these parts for the future and will do all we can to restore trust and confidence in our company," he said.

The chief executive of parent company Sulzer Medica, André Buchel, said the company deeply regretted the incident.

"We accept full responsibility for the recall. We will treat all patients fairly and apologize for any effect the recall may have on patients and their families," he said.

In the US, the company has set up a toll-free telephone number for patients to call. The number is 800-888-4676 ext. 232.

People who have received the hip implants can contact the attorneys listed below for advice on legal representation.

swissinfo with agencies

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