Dodgy pacemakers given to over 500 British heart patients

According to information obtained by the Daily Telegraph under the FOI Act, over 500 people in Britain have been fitted with pacemakers which have serious defects that could cause them to fail at any time, long after the manufacturer became aware of the problem.

The implants are made by the American manufacturer Guidant and are designed to produce electric shocks to revive failing hearts in people with congenital defects. The company has admitted that the device has a tendency to short circuit and at least two deaths have been linked to the design defect.

The company wrote a letter to UK cardiologists on June 17, 2005. Guidant stated in its letter that it became aware of problems with short-circuiting in February 2002 and that "changes intended to prevent this failure were made on April 16, 2002". However, it also tried to justify its decision to continue selling the flawed devices by asserting that it "believed the device to be reliable".

Fury grows over firm's failure to withdraw deadly pacemakers (Daily Telegraph, 1 January 2006)