In the highest compensation ordered for medical negligence in India, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) on Tuesday asked Johnson and Johnson Pvt. Ltd (J&J) to pay over ₹1 crore and ₹90 lakh, respectively, to two patients who suffered from faulty hip implants made by the company.
According to two people aware of the matter, a central expert committee that studied the cases recommended payment of ₹1 crore and ₹90 lakh to the two individuals, both from Uttar Pradesh.
The central committee led by Dr. R.K. Arya, director of sports injury centre at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital, had examined the documents, including the disability certificates issued by the Delhi medical authority to decide on the compensation, the people cited above said on condition of anonymity.
In March, the government had approved the committee’s recommendation in two other J&J hip implant cases from Maharashtra, after which CDSCO on 9 April ordered compensation of ₹65 lakh and ₹74 lakh.
However, J&J challenged the order in Delhi high court, saying it is willing to pay only ₹25 lakh each.
Alongside, the Mumbai Police has opened investigation into an eight-year-old case against DePuy Medical Pvt. Ltd, a subsidiary of J&J, for its faulty hip replacement implants. The city police is in the process of recording statements of patients and doctors to collect evidence.
The developments come months after a Mint investigation exposed the plight of patients who had suffered due to faulty implants.
On 29 November, the centre had approved a formula devised by the Arya committee, which determined the quantum of compensation so that patients could secure the amount from the company. The formula is based on the percentage of disability, age factor and risk factor. The compensation has range of ₹30 lakh-1.2 crore.
In December, the pharma major had moved the Delhi high court against government orders to compensate patients.
However, the Supreme Court, in a separate plea by businessman Arun Goenka, had accepted the government’s recommendation, including the compensation amount, and disposed of the matter.
J&J has been criticized for failing to pay any compensation in India so far, although it had agreed to pay damages totalling $2.5 billion to around 8,000 US citizens who sued the company after receiving the faulty hip implants.
Around 4,700 hip replacement surgeries were carried out in India between 2004 and 2010. However, only 1,080 patients could be traced through the dedicated helpline set up to trace these patients.
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.
Viewing that revision surgeries were necessitated due to the “faulty acetabular surface replacement", the committee had recommended that J&J be made liable to pay “adequate" compensation “commensurate with severity of the pain, the resultant disability, sufferings (both mental and physical) and with loss of wages of each patient who received acetabular surface replacement".