After J&J says critical gaps and factual inaccuracies allowed to stand uncontested, government calls pharma giant for meeting Wednesday.
New Delhi: The Union government has invited US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson for talks after the company approached the Delhi High Court, challenging the compensation formula for patients suffering from its ‘faulty’ hip implants, ThePrint has learnt.
The company has repeatedly said that it hasn’t been given an opportunity to appear before the central expert committee (CEC), and critical gaps and factual inaccuracies have been allowed to stand uncontested.
The committee was formed under the aegis of the Health Ministry to decide the quantum of compensation.
To address the concerns, the company has been offered a meeting Wednesday with the CEC chaired by Dr. R.K. Arya, director, Sports Injury Centre, Safdarjung Hospital.
“The company has confirmed its participation. We are expecting J&J’s Sushobhan Dasgupta (managing director, Johnson & Johnson Medical India) to come and highlight the company’s concerns regarding the devised compensation formula,” a senior Ministry of Health and Family Welfare official told ThePrint on condition of anonymity.
“We have confirmed our intention to attend the meeting of the Central Expert Committee on 9 January,” said a Johnson & Johnson Medical spokesperson.
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In the petition filed in the high court in December, the company questioned the legality of the two expert committees — Agarwal committee and Arya committee — that were formed to look into the matter.
The Agarwal committee was formed to investigate the matter while the Arya panel was formed to decide the quantum of the compensation.
The company termed the formation of the Arya committee ‘void’.
“The conclusions drawn by the Arya committee report are tainted and incorrect and liable to be rejected and the Arya committee report is liable to be set aside,” the petition read.
The pharmaceutical major termed the actions of the Indian government “absolutely one-sided” and “liable to be rejected”.
Another official, who is part of the expert committee, said, “So far, there is no plan to tweak the compensation formula and it is most likely that now court will only decide the quantum.
“However, if court directed us to compensate, holding these talks — with company and patients — will pave the way for future compensations,” said the official who didn’t wish to be named.
In December, the company had told ThePrint, “The formula for compensation needs to be within a fully transparent and legal framework arrived at through due process, and only after proper hearing of the facts and positions of all parties. The outcome also needs to be within a legal framework which is applicable across the industry.”
Invitation to patients
In a separate meeting on the same day, the government has also invited all the affected patients and their representatives.
“Affected patients/their representatives/any other stakeholders are invited for giving their audience before the Central Expert Committee,” said a notice put up by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization, the national regulatory body for Indian pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
The government’s move comes after the group of patients fitted with faulty hip implants rejected the compensation formula.
The patients wrote to Union Health and Family Welfare Minister J.P. Nadda on 6 December, complaining that the formula was devised without consultations.
This report was updated with a comment from Johnson & Johnson.
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