New Delhi: The Delhi High Court will begin hearing final arguments to decide on the quantum of compensation that patients should receive from multinational pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson (J&J) Pvt Ltd today, in what could end uncertainty for patients in the J&J's faulty hip implant case.
The court had on 30 May directed J&J to pay ₹25 lakh each to 67 patients in the Acetabular Surface Replacement (ASR) hip implants case. “While the company had paid interim compensation to some patients, there is no clarity on compensation that should be paid to patients who could not undergo a revision surgery due to some reason or those who are not medically fit for one," said one of the patients on condition of anonymity.
The arguments that start between the drug regulatory authority and the company today will pave the way for the court to decide on the total quantum of compensation that the patients are entitled to. Earlier, India’s drug regulatory authority had asked J&J to pay Rs. 65 lakh and Rs. 74 lakh as compensation to two unidentified patients in Maharashtra. On 30 April, it once again ordered the company to pay over ₹1 crore and ₹90 lakh, respectively, to two patients from Uttar Pradesh.
However, the drug major moved the Delhi High Court against orders to compensate patients, saying it was willing to pay only ₹25 lakh each. The company in its 100-page rejoinder filed in court admitted that there are no legal provisions by which the government can compel it to compensate. With final arguments starting 8 August, it seems the case is not far from resolution.
“Over 65 patients have so far been compensated ₹25 lakh each by the company," said an official requesting anonymity. If the government wins the case, and the court says the formula approved by the government is correct, then the company will have to pay the remaining amount to the patients. However, if the government loses the case, this amount would remain non-refundable, according to the court’s earlier order.
On 29 November, the government had approved a formula devised by the RK Arya committee, which determined the quantum of compensation. The formula is based on the percentage of disability, and age and risk factor. The compensation was in the range of ₹30 lakh to ₹1.2 crore.
The implant, DePuy ASR, was sold in India by DePuy International, a J&J unit. In 2017, the government had formed a panel headed by Dr. Arun Agarwal, former dean of Maulana Azad Medical College, which suggested compensation for each patient.