New Delhi: The Indian unit of global pharma giant Johnson and Johnson () Pvt. Ltd will initiate a new “India-specific” reimbursement programme for those Indian patients who have been affected by its Acetabular Surface Replacement (ASR), or hip implants, the company has told the government.
The new programme to be introduced by the company proposes to support patients who have been implanted in India with its ASR hip implant from June 2004 to August 2010 and provide reimbursement, if the revision surgery and the tests have taken place within 15 years from the date of the primary hip replacement surgery.
Around 4,700 ASR surgeries were carried out in India between 2004 and 2010.
The reimbursement programme will end on 24 August 2025. As per the earlier programme patients could benefit only if the revision surgery had happened within the span of 10 years from the date of primary surgery.
The company in a letter to regulatory authorities on Wednesday said it has decided to start a new reimbursement programme called the ASR India Patient Assistance Programme (ASR IPAP).
“Those who underwent revision surgeries after 10 years after the primary surgery were at loss and could not claim reimbursement as the earlier ASR reimbursement plan covered only those who have had revision surgeries within 10 years of primary surgery. However, with the new programme to be initiated by the company those patients who underwent revision surgery within 15 years of their primary surgery can also claim recall related expenses,” said two people aware of the matter, requesting anonymity.
The implant known as DePuy ASR was sold in India by DePuy International, a unit of Johnson and Johnson has come under severe scrutiny of government agencies after a Mint investigation published on 23 August brought out the ordeal of patients and highlighted the negligence of the American company.
In its letter Johnson and Johnson said that it would introduce an “India-specific” reimbursement programme and provide for the reimbursement of eligible tests and revision surgery upon advice from the orthopaedic surgeon up to 15 years from the date of primary surgery.
The new programme will help patients who required revision surgery. They will be eligible to claim recall related expenses like travel, hotel, food from the time of admission until discharge from the hospital for the patient and one attendant. Expenses for follow up tests conducted in the year following revision surgery will also be reimbursed. “We are pleased to introduce the ASR India Patient Assistance Program (IPAP)—a unique program that is specifically designed to support and address the needs of patients in India. The programme provides for the reimbursement of eligible tests and revision surgery up to 15 years from the date of primary surgery. We are committed to our ASR patients in India and remain dedicated to the advancement of patient health in India as we have for the past 70 years,” a Johnson & Johnson spokesperson said.
The company has also assured the government that it would reach out to patients and surgeons about the new ASR IPAP programme, one of the persons quoted above said.
The new reimbursement programme will provide for the expenses for testing and revision surgeries related to ASR hip implants recalled within 15 years from the date of primary surgery. Tests like Metal Ion (Cobalt and Chromium), X Ray hip, MARS MRI, USG hip, CT scan, and cost of consultation with the surgeon will all be covered under the reimbursement programme.
The company will soon be writing to the surgeons and patients registered on its helpline number. Along with this, the company will also come out with advertisements in regional languages in various states regarding the new programme.