PGI chemist’s bitter pill: Charging three times the MRP, then discounting 57%

  • Vishav Bharti, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Feb 16, 2015 10:20 IST

In what has come as a blow to the attempt to get medicines at affordable rates for patients, a Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) inquiry report has found that the shop, Shevangi Medicos, mandated to offer 57% discount on all items has been fleecing the patients by charging more than three times the MRP in rough bills that are given to patients.

The PGI management is now mulling closure of the shop.

Most patients, being gullible, take the chemist at his word and the fleecing was noticed by an alert customer in September 2014, following which members of a PGI inquiry committee inspected the shop on November 25.

Dr Arvind Rajwanshi, chairperson of the PGIMER’s Estate Committee (Commercial Sites), said they had received the report and were examining the contents, “We will take appropriate action,” he said.

The shop, located in the old Market Complex in the PGI, is owned by the son of Chandigarh-based influential BJP leader Dr AP Sanwaria and the site was allotted at a monthly rent of Rs 20,000 on the condition that 57% discount will be offered on all items sold. The PGIMER charges around Rs 20 lakh from the shop adjoining to this shop, where the discount offered is 15%.

Now, with the violation of the condition coming to light and after an internal probe, it has been recommended that to
save patients from harassment the shop be closed down.

The modus operandi

Overcharged, collect bill later: Sources said the scam was first spotted on September 6 last year, when a Sector-19 resident TD Thareja, who is an employee with a real estate agent, purchased medicines from the shop at the Old Shopping Complex for his wife, undergoing surgery at the institute.

When he bought the medicines, the chemist calculated the payment as a rough bill, but asked the customer to collect the original bill later.

Here lay the catch and the scam.

As per the rough bill, Thareja was charged Rs 470 for Avagard Scrub, Rs 295 for digital themometer and Rs 8.5 for Defenac injection. The customer paid up, but when he checked the MRPs, they were found to be Rs 135, Rs 250 and Rs 4.5.

To check whether this was an accidental mistake or deliberate fleecing, Thareja asked for original bills. These were found to carry the actual MRPs.

Refunded the amount after protest

On protest, Thareja was refunded Rs 2,400 of Rs 4400 he had paid. However, he was warned that no medicines will be sold to him in the future.

The complaint and the inquiry

With the rough bill, the original bill and the doctor’s prescription, the patient complained to the medical superintendent of the institute and a panel was formed to look into the issue.

PGI committee’s findings

The PGI inquiry committee, headed by a departmental head, found that the patient was overcharged for the injection, Defnac, the Avagard 3M Scrub as well as for the digital thermometer. “The committee recommends the shop should be closed to avoid harassment to patients,” its report said.

In spite of repeated attempts Shilesh Sanwaria, the owner of the shop refused to comment, saying he would call back later.

BEWARE: This is How you are fleeced

With most patients not comparing the temporary bill MRPs with prices on the medicines, chemists have a field day in cheating their customers, who pose trust in them.

1. Collect bill later

Chemist sell medicines making only a rough bill, saying, “You may return some medicines, so will give a bill when you will finally come to return the medicines.”

2. Inflated MRPs

These rough bills are inflated as the MRP is taken as double or triple the actual printed MRP.

3. Taken double the MRP, returned less than half

The biggest fleecing is done when patients want to return medicines and surgical items. The chemist refunds money based on the printed MRP, making it an even more sinister fraud.

Small steps that could help

Never leave a chemist’s shop without a regular bill.
Before returning the medicines or any surgical items, always prepare a list with MRP (or the price charged) and tally if the chemist returned the actual amount.

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