Health agencies should have responded more quickly to complaints about faulty hip implants, according to a new report.
MPs on the Science and Technology Committee accused the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) of being 'slow' to respond to the problem.
DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip implants were recalled worldwide two years ago after fears were raised that if the replacements were worn down, metal particles could leak into the blood.
But the committee said the problems were originally noticed by doctors in Australia in 2007. The implants were removed from the Australian market in December 2009, but the worldwide recall was not issued until August 2010.
Because of this delay, many patients suffered 'needlessly', the committee concluded.
A problem with the implants meant tiny metal ions made up of cobalt and chromium are thought to break off and react with the soft tissue surrounding the joint.
It is thought these ions can leak into the blood, leading to possible muscle or bone damage and neurological issues.
'A totally ineffective body working on behalf of the corporations'
The Altogether Hip Patient Support Group has been set up for people who were fitted with such implants.
Members of the group told the committee: 'The MHRA seems to be a totally ineffective body working on behalf of the corporations rather than patients.'
MPs called on the MHRA to improve the transparency surrounding its committee which ensures that medical devices and equipment meet required safety standards.
In its report, the committee also wrote: 'The European Commission and UK Government must improve the speed with which information from adverse incident reporting abroad is handled and acted upon.
'It is disappointing that problems with metal-on-metal hip implants were picked up several years before the worldwide recall and it appears that the MHRA was slow in responding to data emerging from Australia.
'Because of that delay, many patients have suffered needlessly.'
Copyright Press Association 2012