Example of the type of prothesis at the centre of the case. EP
Spanish public prosecutor seeks 6.8 million euros compensation from British firm over 'faulty' hip replacements

Spanish public prosecutor seeks 6.8 million euros compensation from British firm over 'faulty' hip replacements

The case has gone to Spain's national court following complaints from a number of patients who claim they have developed problems including the presence of heavy metals in their blood

Mateo Balín


Tuesday, 2 April 2024, 18:14


Spain's national public prosecutor's office has demanded that the British multinational medical equipment company Smith & Nephew Orthopaedics Ltd, its marketing company and its Spanish subsidiary be ordered to pay more than 6.8 million euros in compensation for the alleged serious damage to the health of a number of patients who have had a BHR hip replacement. The protheses contain a metal which is widely used in hip replacements on people under 65 years of age who have bone wasting diseases and want to continue exercising normally.

The prosecutor's office also claims that the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS), which is part of the central government's ministry for health, should be ordered to pay this compensation. The amounts requested by the individual plaintiffs range from 167,000 to 720,000 euros.

Prosecutor Manuel Campoy added that their right to be protected against health risks as consumers and users of health services has also been violated. The complaint comes from members of the Asociación de Afectados por Prótesis Defectuosas (association of people affected by defective prostheses), who, like the public prosecutor's office, have accused the AEMPS of "not having agreed, in a precautionary or definitive manner, the withdrawal from the market and the prohibition of use of the defective medical device, which was not even registered in the National Register of Hip Implants".

Warnings and physical side effects

Campoy also highlighted that since 2009 there have been "successive recalls (of the product) and warnings in other countries and from the scientific community about the problems presented by metal-on-metal hip prostheses". He explained that this material can be of two types: conventional or standard prostheses and surface prostheses, and adds that the most frequent complications are the formation of pseudo tumours that cause pain and compromise the functionality of the joint, necrosis of the femoral head and fractures of the femoral neck.

Similarly, the prosecutor also pointed out that "there is evidence that the metal-metal pair sometimes causes adverse reactions due to the release of particles from the friction of the articulated surfaces of the prosthesis".

He went on to say, "Some metal particles may be released into the general circulation and accumulate in organs such as the liver, kidney or nervous system, although epidemiological studies do not currently provide sufficient data on the occurrence of systemic reactions."

Finally, he claimed that there is evidence confirming elevated concentrations of heavy ions such as chromium and cobalt in the blood and urine of patients with both conventional and surface metal-on-metal prostheses.

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