Many private hospitals are involved in profiteering by overcharging for consumable items. The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has found that there is a significant difference between the procurement price of scheduled and non-scheduled formulations, medical devices and consumables as compared to the price billed to the patients, said D V Sadananda Gowda, Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers, in Lok Sabha. He added that the action has been initiated against the manufacturers not complying to the notified ceiling price according to the provisions of the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) Act. Complaints related to overpricing have shot up over three times in just two years.
Unaffordable hospital bills and inflated medicine prices have made it difficult for a common man to undergo treatment in a private hospital. The government had received 241 complaints in 2018-19 related to issues in the purchase of medicine and overpricing. The number of such complaints in 2016-17 was 129. The number of complaints related to overpricing alone was 25 in 2016-17, which shot up to 80 in 2018-19, according to the data provided in Lok Sabha.
Another major problem is the shortage of medicines in the country. D V Sadananda Gowda said that the government’s attention is drawn towards the shortage of medicines. Cases related to the shortage of medicines have also skyrocketed from 74 in 2016-17 to 139 in 2018-19, he added. The minister said that the concerned companies are immediately advised to rush the supplies to a particular area in case of a complaint regarding the shortage of medicines.
Discussing the government’s measures to address the drug shortage and overpricing, Sadananda Gowda said that the NPPA is effectively monitoring the prices of medicines and adequate action against such companies are being taken. The NPPA has registered Price Monitoring and Resource Units (PMRUs) in eight states for enhanced price monitoring and has developed a multi-dimensional mechanism that includes overcharging references from different sources, he added.