SC likely to hear PIL for J&J hip implant patients today
The Centre might file its response to the PIL, the actions taken so far and inform SC about the future course of action
New Delhi: As the government upped the ante in the faulty hip implant case of Johnson and Johnson Pvt. Ltd (J&J) by approving monetary compensation for aggrieved patients, the Supreme Court (SC) is likely to hear on Monday a public interest litigation (PIL) on the issue.
On 5 October, the apex court, while hearing the PIL filed by Arun Kumar Goenka, a businessman, had sought the views of the Centre’s expert panel on the faulty hip implants of J&J and directed that a report be filed within two months.
In his PIL, Goenka had sought protection of fundamental rights under Article 21 (right to life) of 14,525 patients who underwent the Acetabular Surface Replacement (ASR) hip implant surgeries since 2005.
“The court is likely to hear the matter on Monday,” said two people aware of the development. They said the government will file its response to the PIL, the actions taken so far and inform the court on the future course of action.
Late on Thursday, the Ventre announced that patients with the faulty hip implants be compensated between ₹30 lakh to ₹1.23 crore along with an additional ₹10 lakh for non-pecuniary damages. The health ministry approved the formula for determining the quantum of compensation for patients who had received ASR hip implants made by DePuy International Ltd, a unit of J&J, before August 2010. While a base amount of ₹20 lakh was recommended by the expert committee formed in 2017, this was enhanced keeping in mind the disability and the age of the patients.
This will be the highest-ever compensation awarded in the country to patients affected by sub-standard treatment. S. Eswara Reddy, Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), said the compensation amount has been accepted by all stakeholders. The drug regulator on Friday has also written to the company communicating the said formula.
But Goenka said he was not satisfied with the formula and may challenge it in court. “This formula is not acceptable to us. It is ambiguous and at some stage we will challenge it,” he said, adding that his future course of action will depend on the government’s reply to the court.
Goenka’s 90-year-old mother had died in March due to “serious complications” after a hip implant surgery in 2007. He also sought setting up of a special investigation team to oversee the implementation of steps against the faulty implants and directing the government to advertise on the recalling of the 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 fitted with the faulty implants and who underwent revision surgeries.
The faulty hip implant was made by DePuy Orthopaedics Inc, a wholly-owned subsidiary of J&J.
Goenka, in his plea, had also asked the court to direct the government to take action against officials who issued a certificate to J&J for selling faulty products without any clinical trials.
While the centre’s response will only be known Monday, 33-year-old Kabbir Chandhok, who underwent revision surgeries due to the faulty hip implant, is happy with the compensation formula devised by the government.
“I am glad that finally my country has taken some good measures to solve the crisis caused due to a mishap by a multinational company,” Chandhok said. “However, I would like to see how fast they can execute it,” he added.
At present, there are no specific legal provisions to provide compensation to patients in such cases. India’s drug regulatory authority in its meeting on 29 November deliberated to having a regulatory provision for payment of compensation by the manufacturer/ importer in case of injury or death of patient for use of notified medical device found malfunctioning. The Drug Techincal Advisory Board (DTAB) referred the matter to a sub committee which will now discuss the issue.