New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday accepted the centre’s compensation scheme for those who suffered from Johnson and Johnson’s (J&J) faulty hip implants and disposed of the case after being assured that steps were being taken to compensate victims.
The court noted that the centre had accepted the formula recommended by the government’s expert committee, which said that the compensation granted could be anywhere between ₹ 33 lakh to ₹ 1.22 crore, depending on the percentage of disability, age and risk factor.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also directed the Centre to widely publicise an 11 September notice asking affected patients to approach the committee set up to look into the compensation issue.
The apex court rejected J&J’s contention that Friday’s order would prejudice its ongoing case in the Delhi high court where the pharmaceutical giant has challenged the Centre’s compensation scheme.
“We haven’t seen the court order. Once it is published we will study it and come back to you in due course," said a J&J spokesperson.
Separately, the Centre has started a fresh round of discussions on the compensation formula. Both J&J and patients shared their views with the expert committee on 9 January.
The apex court had on 5 October sought the views of the Centre’s expert committee on the faulty hip implants, directing its report to be filed in two months.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) by Arun Kumar Goenka, a businessman, who urged the court to protect the fundamental rights under Article 21 (right to life) of 14,525 patients who had undergone the acetabular surface replacement (ASR) hip implant surgeries since 2005.
The plea also sought the appointment of a special investigation team to oversee action over the implants and asked for directions to the government to advertise across India about the recall of the faulty implants.
The PIL was filed in the apex court by lawyer Vivek Narayan Sharma, after a Mint investigation published on 23 August exposed the sufferings of those who had to go through revision surgeries.
Goenka’s 90-year-old mother died in March from “serious complications that occurred following the hip implant surgery in 2007", the petition said.
The device was manufactured by DePuy Orthopaedics Inc, a wholly owned subsidiary of J&J, a $76.4 billion American company, which is represented in India by the unlisted Johnson and Johnson Pvt Ltd.
At present, there are no specific legal provisions to provide compensation to patients in such cases.
In August, the government constituted an expert committee and asked states to form separate panels to determine the quantum of compensation in the eight year old case of patients undergoing corrective surgery after being fitted with “faulty" hip implants sold by J&J.
The committee consists of five members and is chaired by R.K. Arya, director of Safdarjung Hospital’s sports injury centre.