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Fresh writ on exorbitant angioplasty procedure charges to be filed at Delhi HC by next week

Shardul Nautiyal, Mumbai
Monday, November 6, 2017, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

With cardiac patients still facing the onslaught of exorbitant charges for angioplasty procedure as a part of cardiac treatment, a fresh writ is likely to be filed at Delhi High Court (HC) next week against seven respondents including the Union health ministry.

This comes close on the heels of a bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar of Delhi HC directive to the Union health ministry to control the rate of operation charges, doctors' visiting charges, nursing charges and to draft a policy for controlling the rate of all types of charges which are being charged as a part of angioplasty treatment.

The patients are charged between Rs.2,39,684 and Rs.2,16,229 as angioplasty package which is a huge cost despite the fact that the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) through a notification on February 14, 2017 had fixed ceiling prices of cardiac stents with bare metal stents cost being brought down to Rs.7,260 from Rs.45,000 and that of drug eluting stents at Rs.29,600.

A public interest litigation (PIL) against 38 hospitals was filed recently in Delhi High Court (HC) for overcharging cardiac patients by hospitals in the name of angioplasty procedures. Following which the court had directed the Union health ministry which are respondents in the said petition to come out with a policy within 4 months period to control exorbitant charges borne by the patients.

The PIL filed on cases of overcharging of cardiac stents by 38 private hospitals of the country came up for hearing at Delhi High Court (HC) recently.

The step to fix a standardised specification of stent and its MRP by NPPA was meant to stop overcharging of patients. Following this, NPPA had also written to all the chief secretaries to ensure compliance of stent price capping, its availability and uninterrupted cardiac care services.

NPPA reported that there are 300 such cases of cardiac stent overcharging in which either stent price is not mentioned in the medical bill or billing is made in the name of angioplasty charges or cath lab charges and also not mentioning brand name and company of the stents. The hospitals were also found to be not mentioning the batch number and expiry dates of the stents in other cases thus misleading the patients.

The petitioner advocate Birender Sangwan had earlier filed PILs against 18 hospitals at Delhi HC for violation of ceiling prices fixed for coronary stents.

Government capped the prices of cardiac stents based on the conclusion drawn from a committee of experts in 2015 which revealed that all cardiac stents are of the same quality and therefore needs price rationalization. The move followed incorporating cardiac stents in the National List of Essential Medicines which eventually led to capping prices as per Schedule 1 of DPCO.

NPPA has directed hospitals/nursing homes/clinics utilizing coronary stents shall specifically and separately mention the cost of the coronary stent along with its brand name, name of the manufacturer/importer/batch number and other details, if any, in their billing to the patients or their representatives.


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