NEW DELHI: Nearly 40 victims and family members of victims affected by the faulty hip hip replacement surgery they underwent more than a decade ago using devices made by Johnson & Johnson Pvt. Ltd., met the Central Expert Committee in New Delhi on Wednesday to place their concerns before it.
The patients, who travelled to Delhi at their own cost and effort from across the country to meet with the committee, are members of the Hip Implant Patient Support Group (HIPS), a support group for patients with faulty hip implants. The group comprises patients, family members, and others advocating regulatory reforms to improve patient safety.
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In 2017, the Central government had set up a committee headed by Dr. Arun Aggarwal to look into the problems caused by the faulty hip implants produced and distributed by Johnson & Johnson India and DePuy Orthopaedics collectively. DePuy Orthopaedics is a fully-owned arm of J&J.
In August 2018, the Aggarwal Committee released its report which recommended compensation for ASR hip implant victims. Following this, a Central Expert Committee, headed by Dr. R. K. Arya was formed in 2018 to start the compensation process. The compensation formula decided by the committee, that was recently approved by the government, was met with serious concerns from patients because it had many deficiencies and exclusions. At the meeting on January 9, the patients discussed these issues with the committee.
HIPS has been demanding a compensation formula that will address nearly 15 years of pain and suffering that the patients have gone through, accompanied by prosecution of J&J. They said the company must be held accountable for the damage they have caused.
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“I hope the government and the Central Expert Committee realises 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 recognised,” said Jyoti Rani from Visakhapatnam, who suffered a miscarriage because of the levels of the cobalt and chromium in her body caused by the implant. This happened years after the device was recalled, and she was unaware of the toxicity associated with the implant until 2016.
The members of HIPS said they are hopeful after the meeting with the committee. “We are encouraged by the opportunity to interact with the Committee members to explain the range of our suffering because of the hip implants, the aggravation of pain and misery caused by unjustifiably delayed medical attention and other negative impacts on our lives," said Abhishek Bamba who suffers from severe complications from bilateral ASR hip implants.
“Many of our members are in the Consumer Court or in other forums demanding justice from J&J and the government. We will continue our efforts on all fronts. We have made it clear to the government and the Central Expert Committee that compensation is only one part of our battle. 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 of Mumbai, Maharashtra.
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