Sixteen blood banks in Mumbai are set to lose their licences for overcharging patients for blood and blood components such as platelets.
Most of these blood banks, many operated by private hospitals, were selling blood and its components at a price higher than the prescribed rates given by the National Blood Transfusion Council (NBTC), said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Last year, the National Blood Transfusion Council (NBTC) issued a recommendation on prices.
Apart from these blood banks, 53 blood banks operating in other districts of the state are also expected to lose their licence for overcharging. Last year, the FDA conducted inspection of about 310 blood banks in the state and found that 74 were overcharging patients.
“The blood banks, which were found violating the NBTC pricing were called for a personal hearing. Of those five could justify their costs,” said Nishigandha Pashte, assistant commissioner, FDA.
Secretary federation of Bombay blood banks Dr Neelam Nijhara said, “On the basic charge fixed by NBTC, every blood bank was entitled to add any extra tests that were being carried out to make blood safer.”
Now, the FDA has asked the State Blood Transfusion Council (SBTC) to revoke their no objection certificate (NOC).
“Once the NBTC revokes the NOC, we can take further action and cancel their licences,” said a senior FDA official.
FDA officials found that blood banks were overcharging anywhere between Rs50 to Rs500. Blood bank operators said that the price quoted by the NBTC is basic and does not include special tests, which are conducted by many banks to ensure “safe blood transfusion”.
“If the facility is performing tests to ensure safe blood transfusion, which cannot be labelled as overcharging,” said Dr Neelam Nijhara, secretary, Federation of Bombay Blood Banks and bank in-charge of Raheja Hospital’s blood bank. “During the hearing, FDA officials were satisfied with our justification.”
ST Patil, joint commissioner, FDA, said after inspections many banks revised their rates as per NBTC notification.