Faridkot, January 24
To check fleecing of patients due to inflated MRP (maximum retail price) on medicines, the Punjab Vidhan Sabha will hold a discussion in the next session to educate the MLAs about the complexity and lack of transparency in fixing the medicine MRP, said Kultar Singh Sandhwan, Speaker, Vidhan Sabha.
Customers lured with discounts
There is little check on inflated MRP of medicines. Even if the manufacturing cost of these medicines is Rs 10, the MRP printed is Rs 100 at times. Customers are lured by medical stores with discounts in the range of 10 to 50 per cent. Kultar Singh Sandhwan, speaker
After many NGOs and patients raised the matter alleging there’s a huge difference in the actual price and the MRP of a large number of medicines, leaving enough scope for fleecing of patients, Kultar Singh Sandhwan gave this assurance during his visit to Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital here.
“Patients are in a vulnerable situation and very few of them or their relatives pay attention to the exorbitant rates. Many in-house medical stores in hospitals sell patients some selected and expensive brands of medicines. Doctors and hospitals are getting a lot of attractive schemes and hefty margins in the sale of these medicines,” alleged members of Bhai Kanayaiya Cancer Roko Sewa Society that has exposed many such scandals in the area.
Some time back, Red Cross Society in Faridkot had released a list of over 90 medicines that carried an MRP five to 10 times more than the sale price being offered by its outlets. The society is running four medicine shops at three Civil Hospitals in the district and the local Government Medical College.
Many medicines have a highly inflated MRP on the package. For instance, the commonly used antibiotic Ozon-OZ has a printed MRP of Rs 120 but the drug is available for Rs 26 at the Red Cross shop.
To claim higher margins, some doctors and hospitals preferred prescribing non-scheduled branded medicines instead of scheduled medicines, alleged patients, explaining that manufacturers often launch variants of scheduled drugs as “new drugs” or “fixed drug combinations” so as to escape price control, thereby diluting the purpose of creating a National List of Essential Medicines.
After buying medicines in bulk at cheaper prices, some hospitals forced pharmaceutical companies to print higher prices to earn “high profit margins” resulting in “huge out of pocket expenditure” for patients.
“In absence of any check on the inflated MRP, the manufacturing cost of these medicines might be Rs 10 and the MRP printed is Rs100, whereas customers are lured by medical stores offering discounts which are 10 to 50 per cent,” said Kultar Singh.
“It is not possible for every patient to be aware about these discounts before he/she buys a medicine. Many times the MRP, the price printed on every medicine strip or bottle is 10 times more than the drug’s actual price,” he said.
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