It With the header as The notice further says that the government has constituted a central expert committee and state level committee to address concerns and assess the compensation claims of eligible patients in respect of the ASR hip implants. But Mumbai resident and patient Vijay Vojhala isn What are they going to achieve by such an advertisement? They are playing with our pain and the government is in cohorts with them, And then, there is endless wait. At least that Vojhala has a bone to pick with JJ. In 2008, he had undergone a hip implant and, as suggested by his orthopedic surgeon, went with the JJ product. But a few months after the surgery, he started experiencing excruciating pain along with a pronounced limp, reducing his mobility drastically. A medical representative with a multinational, Vojhala then had a chance meeting with an orthopedic surgeon in a medical conference and that changed his life completely. He suggested that I undergo tests to check the cobalt and chromium levels in my body, Tests revealed that he was suffering from various side-effects of the defective device and, after living for two years with a defective implant, he underwent a revision surgery. The case in question isn And it In 2010, ASR hip implants were globally recalled by JJ. The device, comprising ASR XL Acetabular Hip System and ASR Hip resurfacing system, was first introduced in India in 2006. The company renewed its registration certificate for the product in 2009, even as it had begun recalling the product in Australia the same year. The recall in Australia happened after an analysis by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the Australian regulatory body under the department of health, indicated that it had a higher-than-average replacement rate. In 2010, it was recalled from the US and UK market as well, but it took Indian regulators two more years to ban its import and cancel the product licence. What sort of justice is this? Redressals reimbursements Vojhala is among the 4,700 patients in India who underwent JJ hip implants between 2006 and 2010. It was only at the persistence of a few patients like him that the Indian government finally formed a committee. The committee, which was formed in 2017, recommended that JJ be made liable to pay at least Rs 20 lakh to each affected patient, and that the reimbursement programme for revision surgeries should continue till August 2025. Though the committee had submitted its report in February this year, it was only after patient outcry that the outcome was made public. Ideally, they should have had a social scientist, human rights expert, an academic and social scientist besides aggrieved patients and doctors, The implants in question are metal devices, with components of cobalt, chromium and molybdenum. When the metal debris flakes off and enters the bloodstream, it leads to an increase in cobalt and chromium in blood, resulting in blood toxicity and metallosis that can lead to several issues like deafness, thyroid problems, nerve problems, heart problems and even death due to multiorgan failure. In 2013, JJ agreed to pay an estimated $2.5 billion to 8,000 US patients for the defective hip implant. The compensation, tipped to be the highest ever for any medical device, came after thousands of lawsuits were filed by individuals allegedly affected by the company Here, the drug controller and the pharma giant seem to be in cohorts, In another major compensation case, JJ was ordered to pay $4.7 billion in damages to 22 women in the US who alleged that they got cancer after using its talcum powder. In July, the jury in Missouri, US, awarded $4.5 billion in punitive damages So what is it about the West that compensation amounts to million-dollar suits, while in India, patients are left with a pittance? In the US and UK, class action suits or group litigation are a norm, wherein a large number of affected parties come together to fight a legal battle. A class action is a collective claim in which the court awards permission to an individual or individuals to bring the claims of others similarly situated in a single case. But in India, this kind of legal battle is yet to pick up strength. collective action is not a very popular civil remedy in India due to lengthy court proceedings, Experts argue that a well-oiled judiciary in the West also promotes litigation cases. Indian courts, however, have a rather jugaad quick-fix attitude when it comes to determining such issues. Their approach is an ad-hoc one, as amply demonstrated in the Bhopal (gas tragedy) case, The victims of the 1984 Bhopal Gas tragedy are still fighting for compensation. As per government figures, a total of 5,74,376 people were exposed to the US-based Union Carbide Corporation it took anywhere, from eight to 10 years, for the victims to get it, As per the central government, only 5,295 people died as a result of the gas disaster But even that meagre compensation didn They had to pay money to doctors to testify on their health status, hire lawyers to fight in the claim court to prove that they were victims. In a way, they were fighting their own government for adequate compensation, whereas the state should have fought with them against Union Carbide, She points out how the government In 2010, the central government decided to file a curative petition in the SC, stating that it had underestimated the number of deaths and injuries, and sought more compensation. The curative petition seeks compensation of more than Rs 1,000 crore from UCC, now owned by Dow Chemicals. India And, therefore, all suits filed by the victims in the US courts at later stages were also dismissed, Legal loopholes Under the Indian legal system, damages may be awarded under general principles of tort law (which is largely judge-made But it These provisions can Although various Indian statutes provide for collective action, such provisions are rarely used. this is responsible for the absence of a plaintiff bar (an informal designation for attorneys who generally represent people suing someone). Also, since there is no certainty regarding recovery, the plaintiffs are not motivated enough to file class action suits, Besides, in India, there is also the major risk of the plaintiff not only losing the case, but also not getting compensated. A number of state laws in the US provide for strict liability. As such, the consumer who buys a defective product does not need to independently establish that the defect arose from manufacturers The producer is strictly liable for such defects even if he\/she took all reasonable care. The time may have come, in fact, to legislate on this front. The Centre has now sought to amend the consumer protection bill, In the US, what works for the complainant is that damages are generally of two broad types: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are categorised into economic damages that are directly attributable to various economic costs. Non-economic damages are for factors such as pain and suffering. More often than not, non-economic damages are far more significant than economic ones. 3 million to an aggrieved patient, of which $8 million were damages for pain and suffering alone, He further states how punitive damages are meant to teach a lesson to the corporation, so that it deploys safer norms whilst manufacturing products and ensures that consumers are not harmed. Way ahead Over the past few years, India is slowly inching its way up when it comes to compensation claims. In a major development in 2015, the government instituted action against Nestl The complaint was, by nature, a collective action and filed on behalf of all consumers, seeking damages of Rs 640 crore for alleged unfair trade practices, false labelling and misleading advertisements. The complaint was filed under Section 12(1)(d) of the Consumer Protection Act 1986, under which the central or state government can Another landmark judgment where compensation became a talking point involved the trademark\/drug regulatory issue between Glenmark Pharmaceuticals and Galpha Laboratories In August, the Bombay High Court handed out a significant damage award of Rs 1.5 crore after taking note of the fact that Galpha Laboratories was also a reckless violator of drug safety norms. Then there is the Uphaar Cinema fire tragedy case, where the Supreme Court imposed a fine of Rs 60 crore to be paid by the owners (Ansal brothers) to the victims5 lakh to legal heirs of the deceased aged below 20 years; and Rs 1 lakh to those injured. It As far as the JJ case is concerned, till last month, the company claimed that it could trace only 1,080 patients Not everyone is happy, however, with the way things are moving ahead. Vojhala feels the money for the same amount of pain and suffering can Then they should allow patients to decide whether they want to take the compensation being offered or figure out other options, The jury is still out on that.