Knee-jerk reaction sticks boot into S&N shares

Smith & Nephew has had to stop selling its most innovative artificial knees after dozens of patients in the US needed a second operation to correct the implant.

The company's shares were among the worst performers in the FTSE 100 yesterday when the setback emerged.

S&N says it has voluntarily withdrawn two products, launched last year in its much-heralded range of artificial knees made from a robust new material, oxinium. The products will be off the market for at least three months as the company examines whether faulty design or poor surgeon training is to blame for an unexpectedly high revision rate. More than one in every hundred operations have had to be redone. The withdrawn products account for less than15 per cent of oxinium product sales, the company said, but they are being marketed as a next-generation product because they attach to the bone in a novel way.

S&N stressed that no patients have taken legal action over the need for a second operation and that it believed it was well covered by liability insurance, but its shares ended down 7p at 400.75p.

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