Sunday, March 18, 2007

Questions Raised on Implant Recalls

Article in the New York Times -- History of Hernia Patch Raises Questions on Implant Recalls, by Barry Meier.  Here's an excerpt:

How do makers of implanted medical devices react when one of their products starts breaking?

One answer can be found in the case of a hernia repair device made by a subsidiary of C. R. Bard Inc. In late 2005, the company sent out a recall, urging doctors to stop using some versions of the product because a plastic component could break and cut through a patient’s internal organs and tissue.

At the time, Bard executives said they knew about some serious injuries potentially caused by the device, which is known as the Kugel patch. Since then, the Food and Drug Administration has received reports of more than 80 injuries and other problems possibly related to it, including several fatalities.

Bard officials said recently in a statement that they had not recalled the product sooner because complaints about failures were too few and unrelated to raise any alarms. The company also said that both it and the subsidiary, Davol Inc., had reacted responsibly.

But when F.D.A. officials inspected Davol in early 2006, they apparently found other reasons that company officials and the agency might not have been alerted earlier. For example, inspectors reported “discrepancies” and “inconsistencies” in how Davol tracked and analyzed device-related complaints.

And, in several instances, Davol also did not accurately report the possible severity of complaints to the agency, a copy of an inspection report obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act shows.

Bard officials, who declined to be interviewed, said in a statement that they have since addressed the agency’s concerns, and agency officials said they are monitoring the company’s progress.

Still, at a time when the use of implanted medical devices is growing sharply, the episode of the hernia patch is an example of what some experts say is a far wider problem: that some major manufacturers, while contending that they carefully monitor product safety, are not as rigorous as they should be.

BGS

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