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Data Registries May Help Zimmer Hip Patients

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Warsaw, INWith the global market for hip replacements expected to grow 3.2 percent this year from 2010 levels of $5.28 billion, manufacturers such as Zimmer hip are hoping for the biggest piece possible of the hip replacement pie. That said, recent problems involving various artificial hip components—the Zimmer Durom Cup among them—have worried American health care professionals surrounding the lack of a data registry.

That's about to change. Bloomberg News reported on May 8 that two doctor's groups have undertaken the task of establishing data registries that will help track the success and failure rates of artificial hips such as Zimmer hip replacement in similar fashion to existing registries in the UK and Australia, among others.

Information from Britain's National Joint Registry was instrumental in fuelling the recall of products made by a Zimmer Inc. competitor.

Zimmer is the second-largest provider of artificial hips, next to Johnson & Johnson. Both have faced problems inherent with their respective artificial hip replacement products.

The American Joint Replacement Registry (AJRR) is chaired by David Lewallen of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. A total of $1.7 million in funding, so far, has come from orthopedists, prosthetic manufacturers, insurance companies and hospitals.

A second registry has been put together with $12 million in funding from the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality—an offshoot of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Critics have said that any registry should avoid industry funding in order to remain neutral and unbiased. Advocates to the two efforts, however, suggest that successful registries in other countries accept funding from the artificial joint industry without difficulty—and that the idea is to replicate and hopefully improve upon something that is already proving successful elsewhere.

There is little doubt that with increasing failure rates of artificial hips like the Zimmer Durom Cup, a registry is badly needed in an attempt to improve things. With an aging population, hip replacements are forecast to grow substantially in number.

"The most expensive hip is the one that has to be revised," Lewallen said, in comments published May 8 in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.

Zimmer defective hip replacements came to light after a noted surgeon brought failure rates to the attention of the manufacturer. Zimmer denied the Zimmer Durom Cup was defective, countering with an allegation that surgeons were installing the device incorrectly. As for failure rates inherent with the industry in general, Vice-Chairman of the AJRR William Maloney said, "We've been doing a huge experiment," the professor of orthopedic surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine noted in comments to Bloomberg News. "And no one's been keeping track of the data."

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