Balancing innovation and medical device regulation: the case of modern metal-on-metal hip replacements
Jason J Howard1,2
1Division of Orthopedic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Sidra Medical and Research Center, 2Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Weill Cornell Medical College, Doha, Qatar
Abstract: Due to problems with wear particle generation and subsequent loosening using conventional metal-on-polyethylene total hip replacements, there has been a shift toward alternative bearing systems, including metal-on-metal (MoM), for younger, more active patients with degenerative joint disease. Based on positive results from early short-term clinical studies, MoM hip replacements were readily adopted by orthopedic surgeons with thousands being implanted worldwide over the past decade. Unacceptably high revision rates reported by two national joint registries called into question the rigorousness of the regulatory approval process for these implants, particularly with respect to premarket data requirements to prove safety, effectiveness, and the appropriateness of the regulatory pathway chosen. The purpose of this review was to investigate the balance between facilitating the introduction of new medical technologies and the need to ensure safety and effectiveness through comprehensive regulatory assessment. The case of MoM hip replacement devices was used to frame the investigation and subsequent discussions. The regulatory approval processes and post-market surveillance requirements associated with three common MoM hip replacements (two resurfacings: the Birmingham and articular surface replacement and the articular surface replacement XL total hip replacement) were investigated. With respect to modern MoM hip replacement devices, the balance between facilitating the introduction of these new medical technologies and the need to ensure safety and effectiveness through comprehensive regulatory assessment was not achieved. The lessons learned from these experiences have application beyond joint replacements to the introduction of new medical technologies in general, particularly for those who have a significant potential for harm. In this regard, a series of recommendations have been developed to contribute to the evolution of the medical device regulatory process.
Keywords: medical devices, regulation, safety and effectiveness, metal-on-metal hip replacement
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