With their loved ones struggling between life and death situation at the Emergency/intensive care units of the PGIMER and GMCH-32, attendants run from one chemist shop to another to purchase life-saving drug Albumin. Not leaving a chance to loot the helpless attendants, most of the chemists in the PGI, its adjoining sectors and GMCH-32 are selling this drug at exorbitant rates without giving any bills.
The MRP of drug Albumin 20% 100-ml injection is Rs 3,869, but it is sold at Rs 5,000 at most of the city’s chemist shops, implying that patients are being charged 22.62% more for the drug.
This fact came to light when the HT reporter visited various chemist shops in and around Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), including Gol Market area, advanced Paediatrics centre (APC), Nehru block, Emergency, old shopping complex and shops located in Sector 11.
While a few shop owners refused that they have the drug, majority of others assured that they can arrange it, but at ‘higher rate’.
When a patient visits a chemist shop and asks for Albumin 20% Injection 100 ml, shop owner’s immediate reply is, “The cost is Rs 5,000, but you will not get the bill. Moreover, if you want the drug, we can arrange it for you.”
If an attendant agrees to pay the amount more than the MRP, the shopkeeper asks him to wait for 10-15 minutes. He then makes a call to some dealer, “Vijay (a name used by a chemist in Gol Market) deliver the drug at the shop. There is a customer and is ready to pay Rs 5,000.” During those 10-15 minutes, the shopkeeper remained tense and his eyes glued towards the road until the dealer arrived.
After waiting for 10 minutes, a man comes with his hands in pockets. He will secretly take out the injection wrapped in a paper bag. The same will be handed over to you once you pay Rs 5,000.
In case you question them for overcharging, the usual reply is, “Madam, there is a shortage of the drug. We ourselves have to arrange it from outside. The stock is limited and that’s why we are charging extra.” Visit a chemist shop in the basement of APC, the reply will be the same. However, this time, the dealer takes only a minute to go outside and get the drug. Apparently, the drug is not stored in any of the chemist shop, but at some store located within the PGI premises only.
What is Albumin serum?
Human albumin serum is a protein present in human plasma of the blood and is produced in liver. It maintains the level of calcium in the body and transports nutrients or drugs in the blood stream. “There can be shortage of albumin in patients suffering from liver disease like cirrhosis, ascites, kidney failure or those who have underwent kidney or liver transplant. In these patients, as the liver is affected, body does not produce adequate albumin, hence transfusion of the same is required. The injection is life saving,” said professor, hepatology department, PGI, Dr Virendra Singh.
Fresh frozen plasma, Vasso pressure agents like terlipressin and midodrin. But albumin is superior to these drugs, says professor, hepatology department, PGI, Dr Virendra Singh.