Responding to a plea of affected patients, a full bench of the Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked Delhi's Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital to conduct an inquiry on why poor patients are not given free medicines. The Bench questioned why, violating guidelines, doctors prescribed branded medicines instead of pharmacological generics.
Government hospitals are required to provide free medicines to below-poverty-line families. Claiming before the bench they had to spend huge amounts on medicines, many patients below the poverty line alleged authorities had refused to allow them to exercise the Right to Information and inspect stock registers in this regard. Patients also said doctors prescribed them medicines of particular brands only.
After hospital officials failed to give reasons for the anomalies and accepted that doctors had erred by ignoring guidelines, the CIC Bench, headed by Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, ordered the hospital to fix responsibility in each case and submit an inquiry report by 5 January, 2009. However, CIC also expressed anger at the NGO for representing the complainants without proper authorisation.