The Supreme Court Friday disposed of cases regarding faulty hip implants marketed and sold by pharma major Johnson & Johnson after the Centre assured steps were taken to provide compensation, ranging between Rs 3 lakh to Rs 1.22 crore, to the victims.
The top court accepted the submissions and decisions of the government to grant compensation to the victims, depending on their age and extent of disability and asked the Centre to give proper and wide publicity to the scheme of compensation.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in November last year, approved the formula for compensation based on the recommendations of the expert committee under the chairmanship of Dr Arun Kumar Agarwal, ex-dean and professor of ENT, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi. The committee had suggested that at least Rs 20 lakh be paid to each patient. The formula that was approved provides for higher compensation amount by factoring in the age and degree of disability of the patient. It adds a sum of Rs 10 lakh towards “non-pecuniary damages”.
In the last hearing, the court had granted one week’s time to the government’s expert panel to submit its reply on faulty hip implants, following a PIL filed by Delhi-based Arun Kumar Goenka, seeking probe into these faulty implants and also demanding compensation for victims.
The government committee had indicted Johnson & Johnson for “suppressing” key facts on the aftermath of its ASR (articular surface replacement) hip implant surgeries. Over 3,600 patients with the implants remain untraceable and, at least four deaths were reported from those who got these implants. Globally, Johnson & Johnson recalled its faulty hip implant on August 24, 2010 but it took Indian regulators almost two years to ban its import and cancel its licence, official records obtained by The Indian Express revealed.
An investigation by The Indian Express also found out how Johnson & Johnson used a loophole in US laws to push into the Indian market, just like it did with ASR, another hip implant product, Pinnacle, without any clinical trials in the country. The investigation further exposed how medical devices are advertised, sold, and surgically implanted across the world under regulatory systems riddled with holes.