Databases track patients with artificial knees, hips

To avoid another recall like the one Johnson & Johnson's Depuy unit experienced in 2010, two doctors' groups have developed databases to track the success rates of artificial hips and knees in the U.S., Bloomberg is reporting.

The American Joint Replacement Registry is funded by orthopedists, prosthetic manufacturers, insurance companies and hospitals and began collecting data from 16 hospitals in December as part of a pilot program. It plans to roll out the data collection system nationwide later this year. It hopes to eventually track the more than 700,000 hip and knee replacement surgeries annually and record the implants that failed prematurely, according to Bloomberg.

AJRR Chairman David Lewallen said the registry has secured $1.7 million in funding, including more than $650,000 from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and just under $784,000 from AdvaMed.

DePuy is supporting AJRR with technical expertise and funding through AdvaMed "to further monitor the safety and performance of these implants for the benefit of all orthopaedic patients," according to company spokeswoman Lorie Gawreluk. "We are pleased that the American Joint Replacement Registry has progressed to a pilot phase," she said in an e-mail, as quoted by Bloomberg.

Another registry is funded with a $12 million grant from the HHS' Agency for Health Care Research and Quality and is being run by the University of Massachusetts Medical School. That registry will track the experiences of more than 30,000 patients who undergo hip or knee implants each year, said Patricia Franklin, professor of orthopedics at the university and the principal investigator, Bloomberg reports.

However, at least one lawyer involved in the DePuy case has concerns about the AJRR registry--particularly because it receives funding from industry. "It's concerning that industry is financing it," Brian Devine, a lawyer for plaintiffs suing the J&J unit, said, according to Bloomberg. "We think there should be absolute independence."

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