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Why Force Patients to Buy Medicines From Hospital Pharmacies, SC Asks Centre, States

The petitioner submitted that the medicines and consumables that were mandatorily provided by the hospital for his mother's treatment were available at much cheaper prices in the open market and the price differential only for one injection was as high as Rs 21,000.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:May 14, 2018, 4:57 PM IST
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Why Force Patients to Buy Medicines From Hospital Pharmacies, SC Asks Centre, States
Representative image. (File photo: PTI)
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday sought to know from the Centre and state governments as to why hospitals should not be prohibited from forcing their patients to buy medicines and other consumables from their own pharmacies.

A bench led by Justice SA Bobde accepted that the issue was important and a matter of public interest, as it issued notices to Centre, states and union territories.

Siddharth Dalmia, a law student, has moved the top court citing the problem that all patients and their family members have to face during hospitalisation.

Dalmia pointed out that his mother had to undergo surgery and receive treatments for breast cancer, for which the family has already spent close to Rs 15 lakh.

"During the course of the treatment of his mother, the petitioners (Dalmia and his father) for the first time realised that there is an organised methodology adopted by the Hospitals, nursing homes and health care service providing institutions for fleecing and looting the patients by compelling the patients and their attendants to buy medicines only from the hospital and hospital pharmacies within the hospital on MRP or highly inflated artificial prices," stated the petition.

Dalmia contended that it was being done “in collaboration and connivance with the drug manufacturers taking the advantage of the apathy of governments, who, for reasons known to them and despite this fact being in their knowledge and public domain, have left the people of India in lurch and at the mercy of hospitals."

Citing his own case, he submitted that the medicines and consumables that were mandatorily provided by the hospital for his mother's treatment were available at much cheaper prices in the open market and the price differential only for one injection was as high as Rs 21,000.

The petition added most of the hospitals, in the garb of various dubious excuses, compel the patients and their attendants to mandatorily buy medicines only from hospitals and hospital pharmacies at Maximum Retail Prices or artificially inflated and managed prices.

It said that they don’t give any choice or opportunity to the patients and their attendants of buying medicines from other licensed and authorized pharmacies that may be selling such medicines at a lesser or discounted prices.

It also said that hospitals do not explain or disclose the prices of medicines and that are usually disclosed only at the time when the medicines become an immediate necessity.

"As of now, there is no law or policy framework to prevent this misuse, fleecing and looting by Hospitals, and the governments have left the people of India in the unscrupulous hands and the regressive regime of hospitals. It is a case of total failure of the governments to protect the people of India and ensure their welfare," said the plea.

The PIL has sought a direction to Centre and states to prohibit hospitals from compelling the patients to mandatorily buy medicines from their pharmacies and to take action against those who flout such orders.

It further demanded that appropriate notice boards should be put at prominent places in the hospitals and the hospital pharmacies telling the patients and their attendants that they are free and have the choice to purchase medicines, medical devices and implants, and medical consumables from the vendor of their choice, including the hospital pharmacy.

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| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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