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20-Year Warranties for Knee and Hip Implants?

Qmed Staff

September 10, 2013

2 Min Read
20-Year Warranties for Knee and Hip Implants?

Consumers Union is petitioning six medical device manufacturers to provide a warranty for their devices. Since both patients and taxpayers face financial repercussions when some medical devices (like hip and knee implants) fail, this consumer advocacy group is attempting to place this financial burden on manufacturers. Recipients of the letter include Zimmer, Wright Technologies, Stryker, Smith & Nephew, DePuy and Biomet.

In particular, the letter spells out three tenets the group believes will protect patients. These include estimated device lifetimes, quality improvements based on financial incentives and clear procedures for device replacement.

Knowing the estimated lifetime of an implanted medical device can be challenging. While some basic medical products like dental veneers have a very short lifetime, devices that are surgically implanted are often expected to have a longer lifetime. In particular, the company believes that knee and hip implants should have an estimated lifetime of at least 20 years. Based on this, Consumers Union believes the devices should carry a warranty of at least 20 years too.

Since warrantied knee and hip implants would place a financial incentive on manufacturers to improve device longevity, Consumers Union believes that widespread use of warranties could benefit patients. In addition, the consumer advocacy group believes that a warranty process could improve patient ease-of-access to corrective procedures, if needed.

"Because of limited pre-market safety reviews and post-market safety oversight, we believe manufacturers of these products have an obligation to guarantee their products to their customers, just as other manufacturers do for products that are much less essential to consumers' lives. A warranty would cover the full replacement cost of a failed device, and the device maker should continue to work with the patient and surgeon if the device fails," reads the letter send to medical device manufacturers.

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