The National Pharmaceutical and Pricing Authority (NPPA), which recently capped the prices of coronary stents after investigations showed hospitals were overcharging patients for the device, found that a private hospital in Nagpur was asking patients to pay more than the authorised price.
NPPA received similar complaints against municipal KEM Hospital in Mumbai, but investigations so far have not found any proof that it was overcharging patients. The hospital is the first public facility to come under investigation.
Apart from the Nagpur hospital and KEM, a distributor in Pune are also under investigation after complaints were filed online. The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) investigating the complaints said that while a notice has been issued to some hospitals, they are investigating the cases to find out the authenticity of the complaints.
NPPA had slashed the prices of drug eluting stents and bare metal stents on February 13 to put a stop to exploitation of the poor at the hands of hospitals, distributors and manufacturers, charging patients 1,200% more than the maximum retain price (MRP).
“We have as of now received the complaint and we have called for more details of the surgery. Further action will be taken once the authenticity of the complaint is confirmed,” said an official from NPPA’s complaint redressal unit. The helpline set up by the officials is receiving an overwhelming response across the nation, where hundreds of complaints are being registered by patients, who wish to be aware of the updates of restructuring of prices.
FDA commissioner Dr Harshdeep Kamble said as of now no compliance issue has been found in the Nashik- based laboratory and KEM Hospital. “We have found out that the Nagpur hospital overcharged a patient for a stent and charged more than the NPPA blanket cost. We have asked for an explanation. KEM Hospital has performed 22 cardiac stent procedures after NPPA’s order and none of them were overcharged. And the Six Sigma Laboratory’s billing was done on the day of NPPA’s order and not after the notification came into practice,” he said.
Dr Avinash Supe, dean of KEM Hospital said he has bben updated about the complaint and will assist officials with any details that might be needed. “All major treatments and surgeries at the hospital are covered under teh Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jeevandayeeni Yojna scheme, with an approximate limit of about Rs60,000 a procedure, covers the cost of the stents from Rs25,000 to 28,000, which is well under the limit set by NPPA. There is a possibility that the complaint is a hoax,” said Supe.