New Delhi: Victims of the faulty hip implants made by the Johnson and Johnson subsidiary DePuy International on Wednesday met the expert committee formed by the Centre, which has devised the compensation formula for them, for the first time and demanded a review of the plan citing various shortcomings. The patients and members of the Hip Implant Patients Support Group (HIPS), who have come here from across the country, also demanded that the compensation be accompanied with prosecution and accountability of Johnson and Johnson.
Meanwhile, representatives of the Johnson and Johnson also met with the central committee headed by Dr R.K. Arya during the day. The compensation formula which was approved in November last year had drawn ire from the patients and their family members, who asked the Union Health Ministry to involve them in the entire process so that they receive a “fair” compensation. The meeting has come after months of letters and demands by the HIPS that the government meet them and understand the full extent of the damage done by the faulty hip implants.
Some of the deficiencies, mentioned by the victims, relate to the exclusion of patients such as those who have died, cases of multiple implants and issues related to the non-pecuniary component. Vijay Anant Vojhala, an affected patient complained that the current central committee completely ignored the component of medical management of affected patients despite recommendations of a previous expert committee set up last year to look into this issue.
“Also, we apprised the committee about the patients not being offered life insurances and health insurances,” Vojhala said, adding that the entire compensation formula is full with ambiguities. Around 40 patients also alleged that the committee only consulted with Johnson and Johnson representatives during the process, while patients were sidelined. They expressed unhappiness over the compensation amount being low as compared to the international standards.
“Many of our members are in the consumer court or in other forums, demanding justice from J&J and the government. We will continue our efforts on all fronts. We have made it clear to the government and the central expert committee that compensation is only one part of our battle. We will not rest till J&J is investigated, prosecuted and held accountable for their criminal negligence and actions that have left us disabled, in pain and with life long suffering,” Vojhala, a resident of Mumbai, added.
Activist Malini Aisola, who is associated with the HIPS, said: “Several of the patients who had attended the meeting have not applied for compensation because there were concerns about the lack of participation and compensation formula and the process that will employed.”
Meanwhile, the company issued a statement saying, “Johnson and Johnson Private Limited appreciates the meeting today with the government. We remain committed to providing assistance, including appropriate compensation within an established framework, to ASR patients in India who have undergone revision surgery. We look forward to a positive resolution of this matter.”
Going by the formula approved the health ministry, each patient is likely to receive a compensation amount ranging between Rs 30 lakh and Rs 1.23 crore. The formula was drawn based on patient’s age, level of disability due to the implant, a base compensation of Rs 20 lakh, along with Rs 10 lakh for non-pecuniary damages. The pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson recalled the faulty metal-on-metal Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) hip implants in 2010 globally after studies red-flagged the high rate of revision surgeries.
In October last year, the government had constituted the five-member central expert committee to determine the quantum of compensation to be given to the patients who received the “faulty” hip implants.