Compensating Patients for Faulty Hip Surgery Not Enoughby Opinion Express August 28, 2018 0 comments
Each Johnson & Johnson product must undergo scrutiny as compensating patients to make things right regarding faulty hip replacements isn’t enough.
In his book, The Constant Gardener, author John Le Carre had highlighted the conspiracy by pharma majors across the world to conduct unauthorised drug trials on a wasted people in Africa, where lives were cheap and deaths far too many to categorise or define as test drug-related. The corporations reaped constant harvests of these trials, without accountability or compensation for mortalities. Truth be told, India’s case is no different. So though it is mandatory for the US-based Johnson & Johnson to pay compensation to patients in India for its faulty hip implant surgeries, ethically it has given us the short shrift, compensating its clients at home much before the India story blew up in its face. In fact, it even stopped implant production before bothering to enquire about its Indian recipients. Thereby, it has already lengthened the agony of people who were looking to manage their battered old age with a certain degree of independence but found themselves immobile resulting from acute pain and swelling besides battling the concomitant fallout of a poisoned bloodstream, where the chromium from the implant had leached into. They were fitter and have become sicker and there can be no two ways about the fact that no amount of compensation will be enough. Ever. The US giant is accused of selling faulty hip devices to over 4,700 patients in the country and under-reporting that figure. Reportedly four deaths have happened and over 3,600 patients are untraceable. While the Government is trying to identify these patients, fact is in the face of activism and a brand defeat, the company has already paid for revision surgeries and made one of the largest payouts in pharma history for those affected. That assumption that it needed the US goodwill more than the Indian one itself betrays the altruistic intent that it peddles through its many public service campaigns. In fact, it suppressed key facts of its defective implants globally, making it look like a problem of the US and containing the cascading damage in the process.
The Government on its part must give up its tardy ways and while it is setting up an expert committee to monitor compensation and functioning of state committees (Maharashtra was among the first States to push for compensation in 2011 although the implant manufacture was stalled in 2010), it needs to wrestle with Johnson India that pending correctives, it would have no market in India. Already Johnson has been under siege for continuing to sell faulty baby products. The committee has suggested that it pay at least Rs 20 lakh to each affected patient, and the reimbursement for revision surgeries should continue until August 2025. This shouldn’t be all. All Johnson products should hereby be subjected to the strictest scrutiny before they get to counters. For far too long public health has been easily negotiable in India, a fact which emboldens pharma majors. The private network of hospitals too has pushed implants in return for an endorsement without keeping patients in the loop of possible consequences.
Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer