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Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019

Health dept suspends licences of 23 private de-addiction centres

chandigarh Updated: Sep 20, 2019 01:20 IST

The Punjab health department on Thursday ordered suspension of licences of 23 private de-addiction centres in the state for administering “poor quality” buprenorphine/naloxone (BNX) medicines on drug addicts.

Health and family welfare minister Balbir Sidhu cleared the file for putting these centres under suspension and asking them to file a reply as “why their licences should not be dismissed for the glaring lapse”, it is learnt.

Even as court proceedings were initiated after samples of these medicines were taken from private de-addiction centres in 2018, but no departmental action was taken, said a senior department official.

The move comes nearly two weeks after the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the state government to regulate the functioning of private de-addiction centres in Punjab.

“As failing of medicine samples is a serious lapse and the government has zero tolerance this, suspension orders of the licences have been issued. We will not hesitate closing down these centres if they fail to furnish a satisfactory response,” Balbir Sidhu told HT.

Amid allegations of malfunctioning in private de-addiction centres, this is the first ever strict action against these facilities that are treating nearly 1.5 lakh addicts.

Sampling from private de-addiction centres is carried out by the food and drug administration (FDA) which last year had initiated court proceedings against these facilities whose samples failed.

Since the supply of buprenorphine-naloxone to the private centres is already under cloud, the department was forced to change the mechanism of prescriptions and dispensing of these medicines there.

Principal secretary (health and family welfare) Anurag Aggarwal on September 9 had shot off a letter to the deputy commissioners and the civil surgeons, highlighting the heavy price is being charged by private de-addiction centres from patients for buprenorphine.

The price of the medicine at private de-addiction centres is burning a hole into the pocket of patients, Aggarwal has written in the letter. Private centres have been selling a 10-tablet strip of the medicine for ₹300-500 whereas it costs ₹38 to the government, he had underlined.

The private de-addiction centres have been claiming they are providing drugs at higher rates as their quality is “much better” than what the government supplies.

The department is also planning to regulate the supply of these drugs to these private centres to stop these centres from charging exorbitant fee from the patients.

“There is the need to check the functioning of private de-addiction centres as some of them are making huge profits in the name of providing quality treatment,” a senior health department official said.

First Published: Sep 20, 2019 01:20 IST

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