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Release Date: 03/11/2014

Consumers Union Takes Push for Hip and Knee Implant Warranties to Orthopaedic Surgeons Conference in New Orleans

Ad Campaign & Outreach Aims to Build Momentum for Warranties

NEW ORLEANS, LA — Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, is taking its campaign to convince medical device companies to provide warranties for hip and knee implants directly to the doctors who perform hundreds of thousands of these operations each year. The campaign has launched an ad campaign and will be conducting outreach activities this week during the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) conference in New Orleans.

Consumers Union has called on medical device manufacturers to provide warranties to cover the cost of replacing a hip or knee implants that fail prematurely because of a product defect.

This week’s ad campaign includes an ad in support of the campaign in the New Orleans edition of USA Today, a mobile billboard that will circle around the Morial Convention Center, and ads at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.  Consumers Union staff and activists will be conducting outreach about the push for implant warranties outside the convention center where the AAOS annual meeting is taking place.

“Getting a hip or knee implant is a major life decision and high stakes purchase for patients,” said Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project (www.safepatientproject.org).  “Medical device makers should be willing to provide a warranty that spells out how long they will stand by their products and a process for getting it replaced at no cost if the implant turns out to be defective.” 

Nearly 1.2 million hip and knee surgeries are done in the U.S. each year – making them an increasingly common procedure.  Demand is expected to continue escalating in the future.  By 2030, an estimated four million of these procedures will take place annually.  More than half of those patients are expected to be under 65 years old.

Most hip and knee implants perform well and can last up to 20 years.  But the AAOS estimates that 10 percent will fail for a range of reasons, from infection and trauma to loosening or poor implant positioning.

However, medical implants sometimes fail as a result of a product defect, such as the unusually high failure rates experienced by patients with the Johnson & Johnson DePuy ASR XL metal hip implant.  Data gathered from Australia, England, and Wales, where devices are tracked through national registries, showed that one in eight of these devices failed within five years.   

A Consumers Union review of medical device recalls found that all major hip and knee implant manufacturers have recalled a product or line of products for defects over the past decade.  Currently, when defective implants have to be replaced, the cost for additional surgery and a new device is now largely paid by patients or their insurance companies, including Medicare.  These revision surgeries cost more, result in longer hospital stays and can often lead to additional surgeries.

“Millions of patients are expected to undergo hip and knee replacement surgeries in the decades ahead,” said McGiffert.  “Medical device makers should have the confidence to stand by their testing and marketing claims and offer warranties covering product defects.  Patients and their insurance companies shouldn’t have to foot the bill to replace defective devices.”

Media Contact:
Michael McCauley, Consumers Union, 415.902.9537 (cell)/ 415.431.6747 ext 126 (work) or mmccauley@consumer.org 

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