Nearly 40 victims and their family members have met with the Central Expert Committee to share their concerns regarding the health issues faced by them, compensation formula, the process and related issues with the Committee.
The five-member Central Expert Committee (CEC), on January 9 met patients and executives of Johnson & Johnson (J&J), sought more time and consultations as it tries to work out an amicable compensation formula for patients affected by alleged faulty ASR hip implants of J&J.
Nearly 40 victims and their family members have met with the CEC to share their concerns regarding the health issues faced by them, compensation formula, the process and related issues.
This was the first time CEC had a meeting with the patients. The meeting was called after months of letters and demands by patients that the government hear them.
“We are glad that the government and the Central Expert Committee finally called us for this meeting, though the limited duration of the meeting meant we could place our concerns and cases before the committee only in a limited way," said Renu Seth of Delhi.
"Still we hope this is only the first meeting with the government and that even in this short time they were able to see the true extent of suffering and devastation of our lives caused by J&J’s ASR hip implants,” Seth added.
Another patient Jyoti Ramani said doctors told her to stop planning a family due to the levels of cobalt and chromium in her body and the negative impacts that could have on pregnancy and the baby.
Rani suffered a miscarriage years after the recall of the device and was unaware of toxicity associated with the implant until 2016.
“I hope the government and the Central Expert Committee realizes that physical disability is only one of the serious problems faced by us; the impact on our families and our personal lives, the mental agony that we have suffered must be recognized,” she added."We will not rest till J&J is investigated, prosecuted and held accountable for their criminal negligence and actions that have left us disabled, in pain
and with life long suffering,” said Vijay Vojhala, a patient from Mumbai, Maharashtra.
The Committee met J&J executives in a closed-door meeting.
"We remain committed to providing assistance, including appropriate compensation within an established framework, to ASR patients in India who have undergone revision surgery," J&J said in a statement.
"We look forward to a positive resolution of this matter," it added.
In August 2018, the report of the Agarwal Committee set up by the government was released which recommended compensation for ASR hip implant victims. Subsequently, the CEC headed by Dr RK Arya was convened in October 2018 to start the compensation process.
CEC determined the quantum of compensation to be between Rs 30 lakh and Rs 1.22 crore per patient, depending on factors like age and disability.
However, the compensation formula was met with serious concerns from patients as it had many deficiencies, exclusions and lacunae.
Even J&J wasn't happy. The company in a plea to the Delhi high court in December blamed the government for the alleged lack of transparency and the failure to grant the company a hearing before the expert committee.
The ASR hip implants made by DePuy, a division of the US drug and medical devices giant Johnson & Johnson, were globally recalled in 2010 as it caused metal wear debris and an elevated release of cobalt and chromium beyond 7 parts per billion resulting in higher than normal parameters for revision surgeries.
Hip implants are used in hip replacement surgery. Johnson & Johnson is facing lawsuits from patient groups in various countries. In some countries, it has reached a settlement with patient groups by paying billions of dollars.DePuy had earlier informed CDSCO that there were 4,700 ASR surgeries performed in India and just 1080 patients could be traced. The status of remaining patients remains untraceable.