New Delhi: In a move that shows Johnson & Johnson’s intent to compensate patients in India, the company on Wednesday submitted a framework it had used in the US for compensating patients. However, it requested the central expert committee to consider only those patients for compensation who have had revision surgeries and not everyone.
“Four people from the company attended the meeting that lasted an hour. The company has submitted the framework which was used in the US to compensate patients and reiterated that not everyone who underwent surgery be compensated and those with revision surgeries be only considered for compensation," said one of the persons who attended the meeting, requesting anonymity.
Nearly 40 patients who travelled from all over the country to share their concerns before the central expert committee demanded that compensation must be accompanied by “prosecution" and “accountability of J&J". “The base amount is too low. The compensation should be devised as per the international standards," said Vijay Vojhala, a patient from Mumbai.
Both J&J and the patients had the first face-to-face interaction with the committee which was formed by the government to determine the quantum of compensation.
“Johnson & 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," the company said in a statement.
The company had moved the high court in December, alleging lack of transparency on part of government while devising the formula to determine the quantum of compensation.
The government had asked the central expert committee to hold further consultations with those who received the faulty J&J metal-on-metal Acetabular Surface Replacement (ASR) hip implants and were unhappy with the current compensation formula. Subsequently, India’s drug regulatory authority invited aggrieved stakeholders to the January meeting through a notice on its website on 28 December.
“The fomula may be reworked, if the committee deems fit," said another person aware of the matter.
Around 4,700 ASR surgeries were carried out in India between 2004 and 2010. However, only 1,080 patients have been traced through a helpline.
The government’s move to hold consultations is significant because a group of patients fitted with faulty hip implants had also rejected the compensation formula. These patients wrote to health minister J.P. Nadda on 6 December, saying they could not accept a formula devised without consulting them.
“Compensation formula must address nearly 15 years of pain and suffering of patients," a paetient group said in a statement on Wednesday.
As per the compensation formula approved by the health ministry on 29 November, Indian patients fitted with ASR hip implants sold by J&J will get up to ₹ 1.2 crore each, and an additional ₹ 10 lakh, for “non-pecuniary" losses.
According to the formula, the experts have recommended a minimum compensation in case of a disability at ₹ 33 lakh to a maximum of ₹ 1.2 crore. The formula is based on the percentage of disability, age factor and risk factor. For example, in case the disability is on the higher scale (50%) and the person underwent the hip surgery at a young age of 20, the quantum of compensation will be over ₹ 1.2 crore. However, if a person underwent a surgery when he/she was 60 years or older, and the disability was measured at 20-30%, they will be entitled to get a minimum of ₹ 33 lakh.
The experts recommended the use of the Indian Disability Evaluation and Assessment Scale for the assessment and certification of disability.
J&J has been criticized for failing to pay any compensation in India, although it had agreed to pay hefty damages of $2.5 billion to around 8,000 US citizens, who sued the company after receiving faulty hip implants.