Traditionally, joint replacement surgery has been a medical procedure primarily performed on the elderly, with older Americans over 65 most likely to have a hip or knee replaced because of pain and limited mobility. Now, however, our New York injury lawyers know that middle aged Americans are increasingly becoming consumers of the medical device market as they have procedures like joint replacements at younger ages.
Two divergent factors have led to younger people embracing surgeries to replace defective hips and knees. One issue is the obesity epidemic in the United States. As ever increasing numbers of people are overweight, people are putting more stress on their joints and are thus forced to turn to surgery to stop the pain. For many others, staying active and healthy and continuing to play sports and exercise have become top priorities even as they enter into middle age. These active middle aged Americans are also turning to medical devices to extend the number of years they can spend being active while minimizing discomfort due to aging joints.
Regardless of the reasons, It is clear that the medical device market is widening significantly and, as The Bulletin reports, “the futures of major medical device companies are increasingly tied to younger groups and the new markets they represent.” Unfortunately, these medical device manufacturers have not done a very good job with some of the first products they brought to the market to primarily cater to younger patients.
Medical Device Companies Need to Make Sure Their Products are Safe
The shift within the medical device market has been a profound one, with the number of patients aged 45-64 undergoing hip replacements more than doubling between 2000 and 2010. There was also a 213 percent increase in the number of patients within this age group undergoing knee replacement procedures in 2010 versus 2000.
Medical device companies quickly jumped into the market with new products to try to capture younger consumers. The products they offered included things like metal-on-metal hip replacement products as a newer alternative to the traditional ceramic hip joint replacement systems. The metal-on-metal products consisted of a metal stem that fit inside of the femur and a metal head on that stem, instead of a ceramic stem and ceramic head. The middle replacement joint then fits inside of a metal femoral cup in the pelvis.
The metal-on-metal was supposed to be better for younger and more active consumers and the products were marketed as more likely to last longer and provide more flexibility than the ceramic hip replacement systems. Instead, the metal-on-metal products have had very high failure rates and have resulted in record numbers of patients needing revision surgeries within five years of the hip replacement joint being implanted. Similar issues have occurred with knee replacement products, where medical devices were released and marketed to young people and then caused complications while failing to live up to promises.
Many of the medical products that have caused so many problems were brought to the market under FDA 501(K) clearance rules that allow for minimal testing of medical devices. While companies may have been eager to take advantage of this loophole to get medical devices out for sale to a growing market, the serious consequences of this approach have become obvious as thousands of patients sue manufacturers of hip and knee replacement systems.
Medical device manufacturers who want to provide products to a young and active group of patients need to ensure they are performing sufficient testing and that the products are actually safe if these manufacturers don’t want to cause injury, become the victim of lawsuits and turn this emerging market into consumers who don’t trust the safety of the medical devices being offered to them.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations to victims of defective medical devices. Call 1-877-313-7673.
More Blog Entries:
New York Medical Malpractice Lawyers: Overseas Surgeries a Risky Venture, New York City Medical Malpractice Lawyer Blog, August 20, 2013