Cardiac patients who are charged 300% to 400% the cost of stents — tiny metal tubes inserted into narrowed coronary arteries — by hospitals can now heave a sigh of relief as the Maharashtra government on Thursday said medical devices such as stents and catheters must be sold at the maximum retail price (MRP).
“Stents that used to cost Rs1.50 lakh will now be sold at Rs7,255. Imported stents will not cost Rs2 lakh to Rs2.50 lakh, they will be available for Rs 29,000,” said state minister for food and drugs administration, Girish Bapat.
The state identified eight major hospitals in Mumbai that hike the prices of medical devices. Bapat said the state used provisions of the Legal Metrology Act to crack down on such hospitals.
He said the state had filed cases against them under the Consumer Protection Act after they found that these hospitals sold stents at three to four times the import rate. “We took action against eight hospitals, which had been charging patients Rs1 lakh to Rs1.90 lakh for a stent, though they bought these from importers for Rs50,000 to Rs90,000,” he said.
Bapat warned hospitals and stent suppliers that a non-bailable warrant would be issued against them if they were caught overcharging.
“Stents, catheters and 18 other medical devices are included in the Packaged Commodity Act and must be sold at MRP,” said Bapat.
The maximum punishment under the Consumer Protection Act is a jail term of seven years.