Johnson & Johnson Private Limited has launched the (ASR) Articular Surface Replacement) India Patient Assistance Program (IPAP) – a unique program that is specifically designed to support and address the needs of patients in India.
The program provides for the reimbursement of eligible tests and revision surgery up to 15 years from the date of primary surgery.
Earlier Medical Dialogues reported that compensation had been recommended by a panel set up by the Health Ministry, in order to provide relief to patients, who received faulty hip implants from Johnson and Johnson seven years ago.
The panel, led by Dr Arun Kumar Agarwal, Former Dean of Maulana Azad Medical College, suggested a base amount of Rs 20 lakh each for all the patients, who received defective implants and had to be replaced with corrective surgery.
The Program, ASR IPAP provides for the reimbursement of expenses for testing and revision surgeries related to the ASR Hip system recall within 15 years from the date of primary surgery. For patients who require revision surgery, reasonable recall-related expenses will be covered for travel, hotel and food from the time of admission until discharge from the hospital for the patient and one attendant. Expenses for follow-up testing (as recommended by a surgeon) will be reimbursed if these tests are conducted in the year following revision surgery.
This program will benefit patients, who received an ASR Hip system between June 2004 and August 2010 (when the system was available in India) for up to 15 years from the date of primary surgery when they register on the helpline and complete the documentation process.
During the launch, an official from All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN) stated, “For years j&j has denied legitimate claims of patients on the basis that an arbitrary timeframe set by the company, of ten years, had lapsed by the time patients approached the company for reimbursement. The newly framed India-specific program has been framed under pressure, to modify an unjust and callous exclusionary rule.”
Talking to Medical Dialogues, the official from AIDAN added, “While this is positive, it should be kept in mind that the reimbursement program is very limited. For example, because patients were not informed of the faulty implants, they underwent numerous medical investigations, procedures and treatments at significant financial cost, prior to revision surgery. How will they be reimbursed for these costs? In other cases, patients have had to undergo medical procedures after the revision surgery as a consequence of health degeneration as an outcome of the initial defective device. The costs associated have been hefty but no one is even talking about providing reimbursement.”
On the other hand, Vijay Vijohala, J&J ASR Patient said, “It is important to bring to light the fact that patients were absolutely in the dark as regards the faulty hip implants and were left to deal on their own, facing numerous mysterious medical problems for which they paid a huge cost in terms of mental, physical suffering and financial costs. The reimbursement program was and remains very narrow in scope and is not designed to cover the full extent of medical costs related to the faulty hip implants.”