Cobalt Poisoning Mistaken for Alzheimer’s

Cobalt Poisoning Mistaken for Alzheimer’s

By |2019-05-23T10:42:33+00:00August 18th, 2017|Blog Posts in 2017, News Blog|0 Comments

DePuy is one of the makers of a metal-on-metal hip replacement device, the DePuy’s ASR hip resurfacing system. Thousands of U.S. patients opted to have hip-replacement surgery in Hyderabad, India, using this particular device.

The reason for this medical tourism was the system hadn’t been approved yet by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but the surgery was also much less expensive outside of the United States. Hyderabad saw a 166% increase in medical tourism since 2014, and the city is home to western-trained orthopedic surgeons specializing in knee and hip replacements. By the time one couple went in 2004, India had already received 150,000 medical tourists.

The hip resurfacing system was marketed to active older men who were younger than the typical hip replacement recipient. It was later recalled by the company. DePuy also needed to pay more than $1 billion in damages to hip replacement patients who were injured by their devices after nearly 100,000 of them were recalled.

Part of the problem was the composition of the device. People who had the DePuy hip replacement system installed were experiencing symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease. They had low-grade fevers and were cognitively confused. In some cases, people were actually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s before PET scans were taken. These scans indicated the patients had extremely high levels of cobalt in their systems, which was causing the cognitive difficulties. Those who had the device found many had 120 times the safety limit for cobalt-exposed workers.

Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturers of the device, had sent out letters to people affected offering revision surgery, but only to those who hadn’t received the original surgery in India. Even for those who are eligible, the replacement surgeries are typically less successful than the initial replacement operation and result in more extended hospital stays. Likewise, the cost is often borne by the patients and their health insurance companies, rather than the manufacturer who distributed a dangerous product.

If you or a loved one have been injured by a defective hip replacement device, talk to one of our skilled San Francisco defective medical device attorneys. Kaiser Gornick LLP has more than 50 years of combined legal experience to offer your case. Let us help you seek compensation for your injuries.

Contact us at or fill out our online form to schedule a free case consultation today.

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