Johnson & Johnson agrees to pay Rs 25 lakh each to 67 patients affected by faulty hip implants

Aditi Singh

Johnson & Johnson Pvt Ltd. today informed the Delhi High Court that it was ready to pay Rs 25 lakh each as compensation to sixty seven patients affected by its faulty Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) hip implants.

These patients had undergone revision surgeries and were identified out of the total number of 289 claimants before the Central Government’s Drug Regulator.

The company has further added that if the Centre provides it with a list of more patients who had received a revision surgery after the hip implant, it would  pay Rs 25 lakh to them as well after verifying their claim.

A Single Judge Bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru was hearing a challenge to a press release issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare asking it to pay compensation to all the affected patients, as determined by the reports of the Committees formed to examine the issues relating to the faulty hip implants.

Two Expert Committees were formed under the Chairmanship of Dr. Arun Kumar Agarwal and Dr. RK Arya. While the Agarwal Committee examined the issues relating to faulty ASR hip implants, the Arya Committee determined the quantum of compensation.

The formula is based on the percentage of disability, age factor, and risk factor, and was accepted by the Government of India, as per a press released dated November 29, 2018.

Applying the formula, the patients suffering due to faulty hip implants would get as much as ₹1.2 crore each and an additional ₹10 lakh for “non-pecuniary” losses.

Johnson & Johnson has challenged the reports of these two Committees as well.

Till now, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) has asked the company to pay Rs. 65 lakh, Rs. 74 lakh, ₹1 crore and ₹90 lakh respectively to four patients.

During a previous hearing on April 8, Johnson & Johnson had voluntarily vouched to pay Rs 25 lakh as compensation to patients  who had undergone revision surgeries after a verification process.

After the statement, the Court had directed Centre to provide a list of all claimants to the company.

Today, the company clarified that this payment should not be considered as an admission of liability and a precedent.

While recording the clarification, the Court also added that in case the affected patients do not succeed in their claims before any fora, Johnson & Johnson would not be entitled to seek a refund of their voluntarily paid Rs 25 lakh.

Similarly, in case the patients are awarded a compensation higher than Rs 25 lakh, the company would pay the balance amount only, the Court further said.

In its challenge before the High Court, the company contended that the Central Government has no power to constitute the Expert Committees or issue directions to pay compensation under the Drug and Cosmetics Act.

Johnson & Johnson was represented by Senior Advocates Amit Sibal and Sandeep Sethi, who were briefed by Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas Partner Ashwin Sapra.

The Centre was represented by standing counsel Kirtiman Singh.

The matter has been listed for final hearing on August 8.

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