Costly stents: 2 Karnataka hospitals on errant list

Costly stents: 2 Karnataka hospitals on errant list

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) on Thursday disclosed the names of 20 hospitals, including two in Karnataka, against whom it received complaints on over-charging for coronary stents.

The disclosure comes after the ceiling price of these medical devices was fixed.The two Karnataka hospitals on the list are St. Philomenas Hospital in Vivek Nagar of Bengaluru, and Cauvery Hospital in Siddartha Layout, near Teresian College in Mysuru.

The NPPA, however, is yet to receive the supporting copies of the bills from the complainants in both cases. While the authority released the details of 24 complaints, there are multiple complaints against Metro Hospital in Faridabad and KEM Hospital in Mumbai.

The only government hospital on the list of over-charging entities is the Post Graduate Institute for Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh. The hospitals were given a week to respond to the NPPA. If their responses fail to satisfy the authority, it can recommend prosecution against these hospitals under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.

Last month, the drug price control authority fixed the ceiling price of drug eluting stents at Rs 29,600 and bare metal stents at Rs 7,260 after a long legal battle and multiple rounds of discussions involving stent manufacturing and importing companies, public health campaigners and other wings of the government.

The price control was brought in after incorporating coronary stents into the National List of Essential Medicine, whose ceiling prices are fixed by the NPPA. But the order is yet to be implemented in letter and spirit by the hospitals, which are weighing options including hiking the procedure cost in order to keep the rates of angioplasty packages more or less the same.

Other hospitals against whom NPPA received complaints include Sun Medical and Research Centre at Thrissur; Max Hospital at Saket in Delhi; Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai; Ram Murti Hospital in Bareilly; Bharat Heart Institute in Dehradun; Nidan Hospital in Sonipat; Six Sigma Medicare and Research Ltd in Nasik; Healing Touch Hospital in Ambala and Global Hospital in Jalandhar.

These outfits are also accused of non-compliance of an official order, as per which the hospitals are to mention the cost of the coronary stent along with its brand name, manufacturer’s name, batch number and other details in  bills. From the 11 bill copies that NPPA received, it is clear that hospitals are not following this order. Bills of other 13 complaints are awaited.

“Price control on stents would reduce profiteering in the supply chain. Resistance by the importers, some cardiologists and other vested interests is not unexpected, but must be overcome through public pressure and effective regulatory action,” said Arun Mitra, former chairman of the ethical committee at the Punjab Medical Council.

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