Panish Questions Toxicologist About Bias in DePuy ASR Research

Posted on February 26, 2013

Numerous developments continue to arise as a lawsuit filed in conjunction with the DePuy ASR metal on metal hip implant gets addressed at trial.  This past Wednesday, a toxicologist with ChemRisk Inc. took the stand, and Panish Shea & Boyle’s own Brian Panish was there to question him.

DePuy actually hired the toxicologist to conduct research into the effects of heightened levels of cobalt into the bloodstream.  The medical device company has been accused of putting out a product which sheds cobalt and chromium debris when the components of the ASR implant rub against one another.  It’s thought that the absorption of the metal into the bloodstream and the tissue around the implant can lead to blood poisoning and a host of side effects.

The toxicologist, though, disagreed with these assertions, outlining how he and his firm had not been able to turn up evidence that adversity could be expected when cobalt levels rise.  He also explained that the phenomenon wasn’t studied extensively until the DePuy ASR recall.

However, Mr. Panish’s questioning revealed potential bias in the toxicologist’s research.  Although he bristled when accused of being the go-to guy for the industry, the toxicologist then admitted that he had in fact received this description.

Mr. Panish also asked about a Journal of Occupational Health and Environmental Medicine article from 1997.  That article was retracted nine years later, according to the toxicologist, because readers were not told that ChemRisk was responsible for the piece.  At that time, the firm was on retainer with the very companies which were targeted for their role in chromium pollution in a certain area of rural China.  ChemRisk’s article went contrary to research showing a link between chromium pollution and cancer.

What’s more, Mr. Panish outlined how dozens of companies had hired the toxicologist and his firm to conduct research that attempted to contradict studies into the apparent danger posed by benzene, asbestos, and other carcinogens.

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