Friday, December 7, 2012

Depuy hits the headlines in Singapore - finally!

Straits Times Health Correspondent Salma Khalik finally decided the Depuy hip implant problem was important enough to highlight. A half-page spread today.... whoohoo....! Gigamole had been beating this gong for the last 6 months and wondering if anyone was listening. So....thank you Ms Khalik!

Truth is HSA has floundering somewhat with respect to medical devices regulation. With all good intention, it started to do something about it but mismanaged the implementation. After an hysterical outcry from suppliers and practitioners, it pulled back from doing the right thing. Kinda like 3 steps forward and 2.9 steps back.

The Depuy hip implant failure is now subject of a national class action lawsuit in the USA. Just a few days ago, Johnson & Johnson agreed to settle in Australia for A$30,000 per patient. In Singapore however, the situation is far from clear.

There are many problems.
a] Lack of patient awareness. A dear doctor letter was sent out, but there has been no follow up by any responsible party.
b] No one has any idea who received the implant. There is no registry of such implant use.

c] HSA has no idea who is affected, and what to do about it. Gigamole thinks they have just been hoping the problem will fade away in time.
d] There is no service laboratory in Singapore that will measure chromium and cobalt for toxicity.

There is no equivalent of a lemon law for medical devices in Singapore, and no patient consumer movement to look into the interests of the patient-consumer. Like it or not, the only authority who can do this is the HSA, but they seem clueless and toothless.

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