Johnson & Johnson Faulty Hip Implants : SC Closes Case Accepting Centre's Compensation Scheme
Taking note of the compensation scheme proposed by the Centre in this behalf, the Supreme Court on Friday disposed off a PIL alleging "faulty" and "deadly" hip implants, manufactured by US-based pharma major Johnson and Johnson, having been fitted into the bodies of as many as 14,525 Indian patients.
On October 5 last year, the apex court had asked the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to apprise it within two months about the actions, if any, taken after an expert committee found the pharmaceutical giant guilty of "medical negligence".
Today, the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was of the opinion that in view of the Central government's decision to provide compensation between Rs. 3 lakhs to 1.22 crores to the victims, there was no further reason to keep the PIL alive.
The bench, also comprising Justice S. K. Kaul, favoured adequate publicity of the scheme to ensure its benefits can be reaped by victims far and wide.
Appearing on behalf of Johnson & Johnson, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi advanced that by reason of the pendency of this PIL in the top court, the company, having challenged the compensation scheme, is not able to secure a hearing in the High Court in that behalf.
The central government had in 2017 set up a committee, headed by Arun Agarwal, to look into the aftermath of the disaster caused by the faulty Hip Implant produced and distributed by the US firm, its Indian subsidiary and Depuy Orthopaedics INC collectively.
"The Committee has found Johnson and Johnson guilty of medical negligence, however, till date nothing has been done to discover vast number of patients who had undergone hip transplant," said the plea filed by businessman Arun Kumar Goenka, whose mother had died following faulty hip implant surgeries.
The court, taking note of the PIL, had sought the assistance of one of the Additional Solicitor Generals and listed the matter after two months.
The petition sought a direction to the Centre and Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation for taking effective measures to save lives of those who have undergone "Depuy ASR hip implant surgeries and would be unknowingly living a life in hell, if alive or may be dead, due to the negligent acts of respondents."
DePuy Orthopaedics Inc (USA), a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, is engaged in the business of manufacturing, selling and exporting medical implants including articular surface replacements (ASR) hip implants, the plea said, adding that the hip implants have been withdrawn by the firms on their own in 2010 on the ground that they were defective.
The firms "illegally sold DePuy ASR Hip Implants in India from 2005 to 2006. In fact, Johnson and Johnson applied for Import license only on December 6, 2006 and was granted license by Drug Controller (India) on December 15, 2006; however, showing contempt and disregard to Indian Laws for safety of Indian Citizens, Respondents (the firms) imported and sold the implants even without Imports License," it said.
The plea, which has sought a SIT probe to oversee the effective measures for implementation of immediate actions to save the lives of patients of DePuy ASR Implants, referred to the fact that the company had to pay USD 4.40 Billion to over 9,000 victims of faulty implants in the USA and in India no such measures have been undertaken.
"As on date more than 1,500 law suits are pending in the Federal Courts in USA for adjudication," it added.
The plea prayed for a direction to the Centre to advertise about recall implants by the firms and devise a mechanism to ensure safety of 14,525 Indian Patients who had undergone the hip replacement surgeries since 2005.h