15 Mar 2012

New Zealanders join hip replacement legal action

12:57 pm on 15 March 2012

A group of New Zealanders has joined an international lawsuit against a hip replacement manufacturer, after some recipients discovered toxic levels of metal in their systems.

The metal-on-metal joint made by British company DePuy, a subsidiary of global health giant Johnson & Johson, was recalled in 2010.

The device had been implanted in 93,000 people of whom 507 are New Zealanders.

Some patients have recorded high levels of cobalt and chromium in their blood system as a result of the metal parts of the joint rubbing against each other.

Twenty-eight New Zealanders have joined the fight for compensation from DePuy, which is paying for patients to have the joint replaced.

James Elliott, who is heading the New Zealanders' advocate group in the lawsuit, had an implant replaced in 2010.

He says no one really knows what future health problems people who had had the metal-on-metal devices will have.

"I just became progressively outraged at the conduct or more specifically the non-conduct of of the company in terms of not only providing proper compensation to the people for what they've been put through but their complete failure to provide any assistance to patients."

A DePuy spokesperson says the company does not comment on pending lawsuits.

The group is also calling on Parliament's Health Select Committee to investigate the matter, a call the Labour Party supports.

The party's health spokesperson, Maryan Street, says it needs to ensured that the processes for purchasing medical equipment are sound.