Patients fitted with faulty Johnson & Johnson hip implants have decided not to pursue their claims for compensation. The patients have questioned the credibility of the panel the government has appointed to fix compensation.
On Monday, the patients wrote to Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare JP Nadda, seeking his intervention in the matter. They claimed that the government-appointed panel lacks the expertise necessary to arbitrate compensation, and have also questioned the involvement of the multinational firm in the process.
The hip implant devices, known as DePuy ASR, are manufactured by DePuy Orthopaedics Inc, a fully-owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. The patients who got the implants had to undergo revision surgeries due to severe pain in the hip, inability to walk, destruction of bone and deposition of harmful metal debris of the implant inside body tissue.
“Given the lack of transparency and guidelines, there are grave concerns about whether the committee will be fair, just, equitable and reasonable in determining compensation,” reads the letter. “A committee operating without guidelines, framed through a consultative process...lacks credibility and effectiveness.”
In September, the Centre had asked states to constitute separate committees so that aggrieved patients could approach them for compensation. But in the letter to Nadda, the patients said no such committees have yet been formed.
The complainants also said there was a lack of clarity about which cases will be considered appropriate for compensation, the documents needed to make the claim, and the calculation of such compensation. “We remain perplexed over the apparent inaction of the government to hold Johnson & Johnson accountable for the harm they have caused to patients, including through criminal proceedings,” they added.
According to a report by an expert committee set up by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in February 2017, over 3,600 patients with the faulty implants are now untraceable. At least four people died after undergoing surgery. The company itself has admitted that there were 121 “serious adverse events” related to the surgeries in India between January 2014 and June 2017. The government has said the company is responsible for paying damages to all patients who reported adverse reactions.