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Sulzer sued in US over faulty hip replacements

Sulzer Orthopedics has recalled 25,000 hip shells. Sulzer Orthopedics

The Swiss company, Sulzer Medica, is being sued in the United States over faulty hip implants. In a suit filed in California, lawyers accuse the company of failing to warn up to 17,500 patients about the dangers of its hip-replacement shells.

This content was published on February 14, 2001 - 13:45

Sulzer sued in US over faulty hip replacements

The Swiss company, Sulzer Medica, is being sued in the United States over faulty hip implants. In a suit filed in California, lawyers accuse the company of failing to warn up to 17,500 patients about the dangers of its hip-replacement shells.

The plaintiffs argued that Sulzer Medica, one of the world's leading manufacturers of medical devices, knew the implants were faulty before it ordered a recall of 25,000 last December. The company rejects the accusation.

"That is just simply wrong," the group's Swiss-based spokesman, Henner Ams, told swissinfo. "We received the first notice of an early loosening in an implant at the end of September; immediately investigated the case and in December once we had identified the cause of the loosening we ordered the recall."

Some patients fitted with the hip replacements have reported severe groin pain and inability to bear weight on the affected leg.

Sulzer admitted at the time of the recall that the parts were faulty, and said there had been a problem during the manufacturing process.

It said about 17,500 patients had been fitted with the defective implants and that 341 had had them replaced.

Sulzer's Chief executive, André Buchel, said the company deeply regretted the mistake and accepted full responsibility. Sulzer Orthopedics - the US subsidiary which detected the fault - also promised to pay the surgical costs for patients who are not covered by medical insurance and who have to have their hip implants removed.

The lawsuit demands that Sulzer Medica set up a fund to cover the costs of testing and monitoring all patients who have received the faulty implant.

Sulzer said about 90 per cent of the recalled implants went to patients in the US. Other countries affected include: Australia (50 implants), Canada (800), Japan (300), Korea (20), Sweden (50) and Brasil (unknown).

swissinfo

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