U.K. moves to stop use of all-metal hips in government-funded hospitals

Metal-on-metal hips have been in trouble around the world for years due to heightened safety concerns, and now the U.K. government will ban their use in National Health Service hospitals.

Drugwatch.com recently reported the news, which affects all publicly funded hospitals in the U.K. The government made its decision in the wake of new guidance issued by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence that urged the action, following results of yet another new study that outlined high failure rates for all-metal hips made by Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) DePuy and many of its rivals.

In the U.S., as the article noted, J&J, Stryker ($SYK), Biomet and others face thousands of lawsuits alleging that the manufacturers foisted faulty metal hip implants onto the world, leading to legions of patient injuries. While the FDA hasn't banned the product outright, a number of companies, including J&J/DePuy, have initiated recalls of the suspect product. The U.K.'s action adds urgency to a call for further action in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The U.K.'s movement to further limit the use of all-metal hips in the market comes as lawsuits the product class has spawned continue to wind their way through court systems in the U.S. and elsewhere. J&J/DePuy is awaiting its first federal trial over the company's allegedly faulty ASR hips, though a U.S. district judge in Ohio pushed back a planned late-September start date by at least three more months to enable proper scheduling of expert witnesses.

J&J/DePuy faces up to 11,500 lawsuits alleging its now-recalled ASR hips injured patients. The company recently settled two suits and has said it would leave the metal-on-metal and ceramic-on-metal implant business by the end of 2014, citing declining physician use and stricter FDA regulations.

As governments such as the U.K. take action, J&J is reportedly trying to settle all of its remaining lawsuits in a deal that could surpass $3 billion.

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