A 40-year-old Mumbai resident on Thursday sent a legal notice to pharma giant Johnson & Johnson company in India in connection with a ‘faulty’ hip implant case. Vijay Vojhala sent a notice to the company, its subsidiary DePuy Medical Private Limited and Hurkisondas Nurrotumdas hospital for the metal toxicity caused by the alleged faulty metal-on-metal Articulate Surface Replacement (ASR) implant in his body. A complaint will now be filed in the National Consumer Dispute and Redressal Commission with the compensatory claim touching Rs 8 crore.
According to the notice, Vojhala underwent J&J’s hip implant in 2008 after which he suffered a series of health issues like “muscular pain, limping, loss of memory and breathlessness”.
“I underwent a revision surgery in 2012 to rectify the implant. But the implant has affected my body so much that my physical and mental strength has reduced,” alleged Vojhala, a Dombivali resident who works as a marketing manager.
Like Vojhala, of the 4,500 Indians who underwent ASR implants until 2010 — when J&J recalled the implants globally after receiving complaints — several patients allegedly suffered from leaching of cobalt and chromium ions in blood.
Vojhala’s lawyer Arun Mishra said, “The Food and Drug Administration and state public health department’s chief secretaries have been made a party in the legal notice. The company reimbursed the cost of revision surgery after Vojhala approached them. Ideally, they should have approached patients.”
While in December 2013 J&J agreed to compensate $2.5 billion (Rs 15,000 crore) to 8,000 American litigants, in India the case is still being investigated by the Mahim police for the past three years.
Investigating officer ACP K Patil said, “Since it is a medico-legal case, we have asked JJ hospital to set up a committee and assist us in the investigation.”
Following the slow investigating progress, the Maharashtra FDA in 2013 asked the state government to transfer the case to the CBI.
J&J spokesperson said over 35 per cent of ASR patients in India had been contacted, of which 173 revision surgeries were reimbursed. He added that they had not received the legal notice yet.”