The number of people affected by chondrolysis (degeneration of the joint
cartilage) because of pain pumps is notable and has led to hundreds of
lawsuits, including the one successfully led by John Coletti. The
recent New York Times’ article chronicling the saga notes the controversy surrounding the pain pumps
and whether or not pain pumps are indeed directly responsible for chondrolysis.
What we do know is pain pumps such as those manufactured by I-Flow Corporation
and McKinley Medical were increasingly used by surgeons in the late 1990s
as a post-surgical means to administer pain medication. Surgeons used
them in joints, most commonly in shoulders, though the Food and Drug Administration
never gave approval for the pumps to be used in joints. Many afflicted
patients (many of whom were young, healthy, and active) initially seemed
to heal as expected then hit a wall, after which they learned their joint
cartilage somehow died.
In 2006-07, after there was some indication pain pumps and chondrolysis
were linked, the I-Flow Corporation began discouraging medical facilities
and doctors from using the pain pumps in joints. In November 2009 the
FDA posted a bulletin urging doctors to stop using pain pumps in joints.
While congratulations are in order for John Coletti and his, let’s
hope, precedent-setting verdict, the battle is just beginning for many