Study exposes how private hospitals fleece patients; SJM wants PM Modi to regulate drug prices

Private hospitals procure medicines, consumables at cheap prices sell them to patients at exorbitant prices  

Analyses of medical bills by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority show gross exploitation of patients by private hospitals in the country.  These hospitals are making exorbitant profits by overcharging patients.  Hospitals procure medicines and consumables such as syringes at very low prices and charge exorbitantly at times to the tune of 1,737 per cent. For instance, all the hospitals under the study procured three-way-stop-cocks for meagre Rs 5.77 and were sold to patients at a printed MRP of Rs 106.

This clearly shows that hospitals are the major beneficiary of non-price regulation on medicines. The NPPA document also reveals that three items constitutes 46 per cent of the total bill viz. medicines, medical devices and consumables and diagnostic services.  The NPPA states: “…the major beneficiary of profits in all these cases because of inflated MRPs have been hospitals rather than drugs and devices manufactures.”

At present, many consumables such as syringes are not under the price control.  In a letter dated February 7 to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi,  Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM) stated: “All the remaining 19 categories of devices notified as ‘drugs’ under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, which are currently outside price regulation be immediately brought under price control by invoking paragraph 19 of the DPCO 2013.”

It asked the government to publish the analysis of trade margins done by the NPPA of the data of collected for the above mentioned 19 categories of medical devices.

Meanwhile, All-India Drug Action Network (AIDAN) asked “the government to take urgent steps to free patients from the shackles of the hospitals involved in exploitative medical practice by regulating the charges of hospitals. Hospitals are violating ethical standards in following protocols that disallow patients from buying medicines and consumables from the market and non-transparent billing that violates the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and Legal Metrology Act and against patient rights.”

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