New Delhi: US pharma major Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Pvt Ltd has agreed to pay 25 lakhs each to 67 patients who have undergone revision surgeries on receiving faulty hip implants made by the company.
Johnson & Johnson’s counsel Amit Sibal said in Delhi High Court on Thursday that the company was willing to pay the amount to the patients within a week.
Sibal also said that if the Central government provides it with a list of more patients who had received a revision surgery after the hip implant, it would pay ₹25 lakh to them too after verifying their claims.
Justice Vibhu Bakhru remarked: “The payment will be made through bank transfer. If claimants succeed in their claim at any other forum for higher sum due set off be given. If petitioner succeeds, this amount would be non-refundable. Court has not examined the merits of controversy. Payments should be directly into the bank accounts. Out of 289 patients, 93 were verified. Sibal states that the petitioner has got the cheques in the court and said they are drawn in the name of 67 people."
India’s drug regulatory authority had ordered the company to pay compensation to these patients, following the recommendation of the central expert committee. The Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) had asked Johnson & Johnson to pay ₹65 lakh and ₹74 lakh as compensation to two unidentified patients of Maharashtra in March and on 30 April. It once again ordered the company to pay over ₹1 crore and ₹90 lakh respectively to two more patients from Uttar Pradesh. However, the pharma major had moved the Delhi High Court against government orders to compensate patients. J&J challenged the order in the court, saying it is willing to pay only ₹25 lakh each.
J&J is embroiled in a legal battle with the government over the issue of compensation to those patients who had received faulty Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) hip implants, which forced them to undergo revision surgeries. The implants were recalled by the company in August 2010 after the number of serious adverse reactions grew in India and across the world.
67 patients were shortlisted out of a total of 289 claimants before the central drug regulator after they were verified by the company. The company clarified that this voluntary payment should not be construed as an admission of liability or precedent.
Following Thursday’s development, Malini Aisola from the All India Drugs Action Network, said: “J&J has agreed to a payment of 25 lakh to a small number of patients who have undergone revision surgery. This is not an adjudicated amount and far from a just and fair compensation for patients. It is a voluntary payment without prejudice to patients’ rights. All options remain open to patients.”
She said the government had shared the names of 93 patients with revision surgery, but J&J shortened this list to 67 patients.
Meanwhile, Central government standing counsel Kirtiman Singh told the court that they had been receiving fresh claims. Senior Advocate Amit Sibal, appearing for J&J, replied that J&J had set up a helpline number to receive calls and that claims that were verified would receive the same amount. The interim direction came after J&J volunteered to pay Rs 25 lakh during a hearing of its petition on May 2, as compensation to the affected.