The Centre informed the Supreme Court Monday it would submit the report of the expert committee, which went into medical implants sold and marketed by pharma major Johnson and Johnson, to the court in a week’s time.
Allowing this, the bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph directed that the matter be listed for hearing after the report is received by the Supreme Court Registry.
Last week, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare approved a formula for compensation mandating that patients who received faulty hip implants from Johnson & Johnson would receive compensation of Rs 30 lakh to Rs 1.22 crore, depending on their age and extent of disability.
The formula was based on the recommendations of the expert committee under the chairmanship of Dr Arun Kumar Agarwal, former dean and professor of ENT, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi.
The ASR metal implants under the scanner were at the centre of a series of investigative reports by The Indian Express in August, including the key findings of the expert committee set up by the Health Ministry to probe complaints from hospitals and patients.
The committee’s conclusions: J&J “suppressed” key facts on the aftermath of ASR implant surgeries; over 3,600 patients with the implants remain untraceable; and, at least four deaths were reported from those who got these implants. The committee recommended that J&J be made liable to pay at least Rs 20 lakh to each affected patient and that the reimbursement programme for revision surgeries continue until August 2025.
On Monday, the CJI-led bench said: “Learned counsel appearing for the Union of India states that the report of the Committee Dr Arun Agarwal, Professor of ENT, Maulana Azad Medical College, is ready and will be filed within a week. List the matter after the report is received by the Registry. Let a copy of the said report be given to each of the contesting parties.”
A PIL had been filed by Delhi resident Arun Kumar Goenka who said his mother was a victim of faulty hip implants. He said a consumer complaint filed in this regard against US-based Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics Inc and Indian arm Johnson & Johnson Limited was pending before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
The PIL contended that similar “faulty, deadly and poisonous” implants had been done on thousands of patients in India, but it was still not known who these patients were.
Goenka pointed out that in February 2017, the Ministry of Health constituted a committee under Agarwal’s chairmanship “to look into the aftermath of the disaster caused by the faulty” hip Implants. Thought the committee submitted its report, “till date nothing has been done to discover vast number of patients who had undergone hip transplant” and sought urgent steps to identify the victims.
On October 5, the bench, while hearing the PIL, asked the government to inform whether the committee had submitted its report and to furnish a copy along with the recommendations to the court.
The petition contended that “the ‘DePuy ASR Hip Implants’ were introduced in USA in the year 2005 without any clinical trials and FDA approval, because it resembled devices already in the market. Testing was required for DePuy’s ASR hip resurfacing system, but DePuy dropped its request for approval when problems were revealed. Even without FDA approval, DePuy recommended the hip resurfacing system to the US doctors and continued selling it outside the US”.