In a major clamp down on private hospitals and nursing homes operating in the national capital, the Delhi government ordered them not to force patients to purchase medicines from their in-house pharmacies.
Further, the state government announced a slew of measures on Monday, which will be implemented after a month, for capping the profits of private hospitals.
India’s drug pricing watchdog, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), had earlier found that the private hospitals make profits of up to 1700 % on drugs, diagnostics and consumables by forcing consumers to buy medicines from their in-house pharmacies.
The Delhi government said that it would be mandatory for the private hospitals to initially prescribe only those medicines which are registered under the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) by the Central government.As per information provided by NPPA, as many as 376 medicines are registered under NLEM.
Saytender Jain, Delhi health minister said that the new rules, once implemented, will offer a huge relief to the city’s residents as far as medical expenses are concerned.
“Essential medicines registered under NLEM, will have to be sold at their MRP only. As far as non-essential medicines are concerned, the cap would be at 50% above their MRP, Jain said.The Delhi government is also set to clamp down on ‘packaged surgeries’. Jain said that as per the new directive, patients will have to pay only half the price for the second surgery after taking a package.
“If a patient buys a package of one lakh rupees regarding a surgery and is recommended for a second surgery by the hospital, the patient will have to pay only fifty percent of the amount for the second one,” he further added.
Jain said that ‘High risk packages’ being sold to the patients can be priced at a maximum of 20 percent higher than normal packages only. However, these packages would have to be explained in detail to the customers.
The government has also ordered that 50 percent of the fees should be returned to the patient’s family in case of death within 6 hours of hospitalization. Further, 20 percent of the bill would be waived off in case of death within 24 hours of hospitalisaion.
“No hospital can refuse to handover the dead body to the family members even if dues are not fully paid,” Jain said.
A nine-member committee had been constituted by the Delhi government in December 2017 to suggest the scope and process of capping prices. The committee constituted members from the Delhi Medical Council, Indian Medical Association and some top bureaucrats working with the health department.
The move to clamp down on private hospitals comes after recommendations were provided by the aforementioned committee.