Hospitals in Maharashtra reused 1,306 catheters, charged patients 77% of MRP, says FDA
Mumbai city news: Catheters are used to clear obstructions or dilate a narrowed canal, duct or blood vessel as support devices in angioplasty procedures.mumbai Updated: Jul 10, 2017 23:53 IST
Eight private hospitals in Maharashtra reused 1,306 catheters for more than 1,000 patients after charging them as much as 77% of the retail price, a Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) report revealed. The FDA and the state health department considers the practice unethical but since the Medical Council of India, health ministry or FDA have no legal provisions to stop the offence, it is likely that the hospitals will get away with it.
Catheters are used to clear obstructions or dilate a narrowed canal, duct or blood vessel as support devices in angioplasty procedures. FDA officials said the report has been forwarded to the licensing department of BMC after they found that a distributor of guiding and balloon catheters has a storage centre in Kandivli that functions without a license.
The MRP of a balloon catheter is between Rs20,000 and Rs28,000 and a guiding catheter costs anywhere from Rs5,000 to Rs10,500. Health officials said while reusing the device is not illegal if they are sterilised, charging patients more than three-fourth of the cost of a new device is unethical. The cost of sterilising a device for reuse is around 10-20 paise.
“A number of medical devices are cleaned up and sterilised using ethylene oxide two to five times before being reused. However, since the liquid is inexpensive, the cost of sterilisation is negligible,” said a doctor.
The report found that private hospitals in Mulund, Vashi and Andheri were also selling catheters to patients for almost 200% to 300% its cost. Shockingly so, the hospitals were using the same products for fresh patients and charged them three-fourth of the retail price, earning very high margins.
“Sadly, there are no legal provisions for reusing the medical devices like catheters or charging patients for the same,” said an official from the health department.
“There are some products that cost Rs6,000 to the hospital. The MRP of the product, which is what the first patient pays, is Rs26,000 and when the product is reused the hospital charges Rs20,000 to second patient on,” said FDA officials.
RPY Rao, from Society for Awareness of Civil Rights, who alerted the FDA officials about the anomaly, said he has asked the MCI and Department of Consumer Affairs to introduce an act or amend existing laws to stop patient exploitation.
“Hospitals need to face legal action for looting patients. We demand that all the 4,500 medical devices used in surgical procedures be notified as drugs, added to National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) and allow NPPA to cap the prices under Drug price Control Order (DPCO – 2013) in Drugs and Cosmetic Act 1940,” said Rao.
A statement issued by one of the hospitals named in the report read, “We are charging the prescribed label price. We unwaveringly continue to abide by the statutory guidelines laid down by the governing and regulatory bodies. Our commitment to provide world class patient care is complemented by best equipments for our patients without compromising on the quality of care.”