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Activists file fresh cases against hospitals for overcharging cardiac stents by Delhi based hospitals

Shardul Nautiyal, Mumbai
Friday, November 24, 2017, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Delhi based activists and lawyers have teamed up to file cases against hospitals for violation of drug price control order (DPCO) and are planning to take up the matter with National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA).

Delhi based lawyer Birendra Sangwan said that besides the seven cases of overcharging of stents in hospitals one more cardiac care centre at Narela in West Delhi has been added to the list for which a writ petition will also be filed in the Delhi High Court (HC).

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 rates of all these services are being worked out.

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 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 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 had earlier reported that it has observed 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.


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