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Hospital Sues Stryker over Recall-Plagued Hip Implants

Stryker is already spending about $1.4 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits involving people with potentially faulty metal-on-metal hip implants. Now there's a chance hospitals will want money, too.
Chris Newmarker
A northern Arkansas hospital is suing Stryker because it claims it lost revenue over metal-on-metal hip implant issues, according to The Baxter Bulletin in Baxter County, AR.
Baxter Regional Medical Center is claiming revenue and profit losses because issues around Stryker hip devices took up time related to patient counseling and revision surgeries, disrupted the hospital's operations, and damaged its reputation.
The hospital has specified exactly how much it would like Kalamazoo, MI-based Stryker to cough up. 
"Right now, we just don't know how many patients at BRMC were recipients of this device. The lawsuit just mentions costs in general because we can't be certain," Randy Coleman, a Little Rock attorney representing BRMC, told The Baxter Bulletin. 
Qmed could not immediately reach a Stryker spokesperson for comment. 
Stryker is already paying more than $1.4 billion to settle thousands of patient lawsuits related to its  Rejuvenate and ABG II artificial hips. The company recalled the hips in 2012. It warned surgeons that the hips could harm tissue around the hip and cause other health problems.
Lawsuits from hospitals could be the latest twist. Coleman thought his suit was one of the first in which a hospital is suing Stryker over hip implants. But hospitals do sue medical device makers sometimes. The Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, for example, recently joined a widow's lawsuit against Olympus Corp. over potentially hard-to-clean duodenoscopes that resulted in a deadly "superbug" infection.
It is also worth noting that Stryker has plenty of companionship when it comes to medical device companies plagued by metal-on-metal hip implant lawsuits. Along with vaginal meshes, the hip implants have been a lawsuit magnet in recent years. 
First introduced in the late 1990s, all-metal hip implants were thought to be stronger than other types of implants with the exception of those made of ceramic, which are hard yet brittle. It turned out, though, that the implants had serious issues. Undergoing wear and tear, the implants in some cases have released chromium and cobalt ions. These ions can seep into local tissue near the site of an implant, potentially destroying bone and muscle. If these ions manage to enter a patient's circulatory system, they can injure the kidneys, liver, spleen and lymph nodes before elimination from the body through urine.
Just earlier this year, J&J said its DePuy Orthopaedics subsidiary could end up paying another $420 million on top of the $2.5 billion it was already expected to pay to settle lawsuits related to ASR metal-on-metal hip implant products. Besides the ASR suits, Johnson & Johnson has also had to respond to a host of lawsuits related to DePuy's Pinnacle Acetabular Cup System used in hip replacement surgery.
Warsaw, IN-based Biomet is also dealing with the fallout of metal-on-metal hip implant suits, which played a major role in its $135 million in legal expenses for the fiscal year ended May 31, 2014, according to Standard & Poor's Rating Services.
Refresh your medical device industry knowledge at MD&M East in New York City, June 9-11, 2015.

Chris Newmarker is senior editor of Qmed and MPMN. Follow him on Twitter at @newmarker.

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