Patients of faulty hip implant totter in pain

Union Health Ministry has done precious little to help hapless recipients of faulty hip implants

J P Nadda said that the health ministry is deliberating on the matter of compensating patients.

Guarding the dark truth for seven long years, the Union Health Ministry has done precious little to help hapless recipients of faulty hip implants, manufactured by a subsidiary of pharmaceutical major Johnson and Johnson.

Earlier this year, the ministry's expert panel submitted a report indicting the company for suppressing facts and misleading the patients. The panel recommended Rs 20 lakh compensation to each of the patients. But none have got the money so far.

Asked what the ministry proposes to ensure the patients get at least pecuniary benefit, Union Health Minister J P Nadda on Monday said, “We are deliberating. We share your concerns and will come back to you.”

Accused firm Johnson & Johnson's subsidiary, DePuay International, supplied flawed ASR XL Acetabular Hip System and ASR Hip Resurfacing System to the Indian market. Several Indian patients received those implants a decade ago.

Soon after, the recipients developed body pain because of the release of cobalt and chromium – the two materials from which the implants were made. Many had to undergo a revision surgery. The same effects were reported from other countries from where the product was recalled. However, there was no such action in India.

As complaints increased, Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration in October 2011 informed the Central Drug Standard Controller Organisation under the Health Ministry and followed it up regularly with a recommendation to initiate action against the company.

Meanwhile, the patients who received those faulty implants approached the government and courts with their grievances.

The ministry in February 2017 finally constituted a committee under the chairmanship of Arun Kumar Agarwal, former dean and professor of ENT of Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi to probe the entire episode.

Co indicted

In its report, the panel indicted the company for suppressing facts. It also accused the firm of not doing enough to track patients who had received the implants.

“There is something which the firm intends to hide that shows the non-cooperative intent of the firm. It is difficult to comprehend that the firm had no idea about the exact number of patients though they claim to have approx number of surgeries conducted on patients,” the panel report said.

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