The government is posed with a fresh challenge as National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has started receiving consumer complaints against hospitals that hospitals are allegedly hiking the prices of non-stent components in coronary care treatments after the government in February had imposed price caps on stents and directed hospitals to issue separate bills specifying their cost.
“We have received some complaints against hospitals where prima facie it appears that they have increased the prices of other components. The stent price has been kept the same. This is to neutralise the dent on profits that has occurred due to the cap on stent price. The NPPA is getting these cases investigated,” said a senior government official on condition of anonymity.
A senior executive from one of the major medical device companies said “There are hospitals which have capped the stent prices, but they have increased the prices of all other expenses that are incurred during the angioplasty. Ultimately, in many cases, the patient is still not getting the full benefit of this price cap.”
NPPA has received complaints against 40 hospitals, including Metro Hospital in Faridabad, KEM Hospital in Mumbai and Max Hospital in Delhi
However speaking with Indian Express, the spokesperson of Max Hospital stated that after the NPPA order, the cost of angioplasty where a stent is used has come down by “approximately 20-25 per cent in Max Hospitals.
“No complaint has been filed against our hospitals for overcharging in respect of coronary stents which are covered under NPPA order. One of the patients of Max Super Specialty Hospital, Saket has complained to NPPA regarding high price of stent charged, in response to which the hospital has already submitted its detailed response clarifying that the stent used for the treatment of that patient was not a coronary stent and is not covered within the purview of NPPA order. We have already submitted all the documents and information (including number of stents used and price charged in respect thereof) as required by NPPA and drugs control department,” said the spokesperson
However acknowledging the issue, NPPA chairman, Bhupendra Singh, told The Indian Express that “examination of hospital records is in process”.
On May 12 briefing, Ananth Kumar, Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers speaking on the issue of hospitals overcharging the non-stent components, said “We have said that if you drop the price of stents and increase the price of the treatment, it would not be allowed. Whatever package you have kept in last three years, there used to be a stent package in which there was an investigation cost, procedure cost, post-procedural cost etc it should remain the same. It should not go up and down.”
The department of pharmaceuticals as well as NPPA come under the chemicals and fertilisers ministry.