BUPRENORPHINE PRICE: Owners close down private de-addiction centres in protest
Say govt’s move to cap medicine price at Rs 7.5 per tablet is ‘arbitrary, impracticable’Updated: Nov 11, 2019 23:03 IST
Owners of private de-addiction centres in Punjab on Monday closed down their facilities for indefinite time to protest against the state government’s move to cap the price of buprenorphine at Rs 7.5 per tablet.
The government has taken the decision to provide financial relief to the addicts undergoing treatment at private centres as they were selling the medicine between Rs 35 and Rs 50 per tablet.
However, the owners of these centres claim that the government’s move to cap the price is “arbitrary” as they were not taken into confidence before the announcement.
The state has nearly 96 private de-addiction centres treating more than 50,000 addicts.
“The conditions being imposed by the state government are not practicable. The capping of price at Rs 7.5 was an ill-advised and illogical decision since the state government is not authorised to cap the prices of drug,” said Satpal Singh, owner of two de-addiction centres.
Private centre owners alleged that certain officials in the department had launched a vilification campaign against private de-addiction centres by claiming that they were selling the de-addiction tablets at exorbitant prices.
“The government, for the reasons best known to it, wants us to purchase the de-addiction medicines from a particular pharmaceutical company at a particular price,” some de-addiction centre owners alleged.
Interestingly, most of the owners of these centres are not willing to come on record citing backlash from the government. They argue the patients should have a choice to select the medicine they want.
“Like antibiotic capsules of same salt sell for different prices depending upon the brand, effectiveness and credibility, same is the case with the de-addiction medicines,” they said.
“It should be left to the doctor and the patient as to which de-addiction medicine suits the addict better, irrespective of its price,” they added.
Centre owners claim that they do not take any consultation fee or any other charges from the patients.
“We only charge for the medicines we provide them and all other expenses incurred on running the de-addiction centre is borne with the profit margins.”
They said the government de-addiction centres roughly cater to about 10% patients only, while 90% patients visit private centres.
GOVT MOVE WELL THOUGHT-OUT: MINISTER
When contacted, health and family welfare minister Balbir Sidhu said he was not aware of the protest by the private centres. “The government doesn’t have any problem in listening to their grievances. But the decision to cap the medicine price is a well thought-out move,” he said.
Meanwhile, health officials said the patients under treatment in these centres can avail the medicine from government-run de-addiction centres and outpatient opioid assistance treatment (OOAT) centres.