Johnson & Johnson | (Image: Reuters)
In a fresh development in the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) faulty hip replacement system issue, the Union ministry of health and family welfare has issued letters to all states to set up committees that would undertake the task of identifying the affected patients and refer them to the central committee. The panel would, in turn, review the applications and decide the amount of compensation.
In a letter dated August 30, the ministry of health has written to all state health secretaries to take action.
State health departments have been asked to constitute committees that would comprise two orthopaedic surgeons or physical medical rehabilitation experts from a government medical college and hospital, one radiologist from the government hospital, and a representative from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation’s zonal office. The drugs controller of a state would be the member secretary of the committee.
The states would bring out advertisements in newspapers so that affected patients can approach the committee or the concerned state drugs controller. While a total of 4,700 surgeries were conducted in India using J&J subsidiary, DePuy’s ASR hip replacement system, only 882 patients (accounting for 1,056 ASR hip replacement systems) could be traced through the ASR Helpline. DePuy established a reimbursement process and ASR helpline for Indian patients through Puri Crawford, insurance surveyors and loss assessors, in September 2010.
The government sources said, “The main task at hand is to identify affected patients and then determine the degree of compensation.” The letter stated the ministry of health had formed a committee under the chairmanship of Dr Arun K Aggarwal, former dean and professor of ENT, Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi, to examine the issues related to faulty ASR hip implants manufactured by DePuy International, UK. It said the ministry had accepted the recommendations with some modifications.
The committee had recommended formation of a central expert panel and regional committees for determining the exact quantum of compensation after taking into account an amount of Rs 2 mn. The government has accepted the proposal but has decided to form state-level committees instead of regional expert committees so that patients can easily approach these committees.
The compensation would be determined based on the degree of disability and the impact on one’s ability to lead a normal life and earn a livelihood. “On case-to-case basis, it can vary from Rs 2 to tens of millions,” an official said. The base amount (Rs 2 million) should be such that if the affected patient, with permanent disability, keeps the amount of compensation in bank in the way of fixed deposit, at an interest of 7 per cent annually, he or she will get a monthly interest amount, which is equivalent to the minimum wages.
For example, based on the minimum wages of an unskilled worker based in Delhi as of March 2017, the minimum monthly wage works out to Rs 13,350. To earn this, a deposit of over Rs 2 million would be required to be kept in a bank account.