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J&J offers Rs. 25 lakh to all patients for faulty implant

U.S. multinational Johnson & Johnson (J&J) on Thursday informed the Delhi High Court that it was ready to voluntarily pay Rs. 25 lakh each to 67 patients who have undergone revision surgeries on receiving faulty hip implants made by the company.

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.

Around 93,000 people worldwide were implanted with ASR, of which around 4,700 patients are from India.

The implants were recalled by the company in August 2010 after the number of serious adverse reactions grew in India and across the world.

The 67 patients would be receiving the cheque within two weeks.

They were short-listed out of a total of 289 claimants before the central drug regulator after they were verified by the company.

J&J additionally told the High Court that it was willing to pay similar amount to other verified patients. It, however, clarified that this voluntary payment should not be construed as an admission of liability or precedent.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru noted the company’s contention but clarified that the court had not gone into the merits of controversy involved. The judge also said that the payment of Rs. 25 lakh will not prejudice the rights of patients to seek additional claims.

The High Court was hearing J&J’s plea challenging a press release issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare asking it to pay compensation to the affected patients. J&J has challenged the compensation formula worked out by the government-appointed expert committee.

Following Thursday’s development, Ms. 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.

One of the patients, Vijay Vojhala said, “We are not aware of the basis or criteria that the Company has used. This number is surprising because J&J has access to information about hundreds of patients who have undergone revision surgery, through its reimbursement program.”

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