Delhi govt proposes strict price caps on medicines, medical products

The prices of medicine and medical products may be capped soon in Delhi according to a proposal by the Delhi government, announced by Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Monday.

In a move that is expected to especially help patients of private hospitals, the Delhi government has proposed in a draft advisory that the price of medicines and consumables could be upto a maximum of 50 per cent more than the purchase price, or it could be the MRP, whichever is lower. Since last year, a string of cases in Delhi whereby private hospitals have handed out inflated medical bills with ballooning medicine charges, have caught the public eye.

The proposal, that has now been put in the public domain for comments over the next 30 days, will kick in after that. The nine-member panel, headed by Director-General of Health Services Kirti Bhushan, was set up by the Arvind Kejriwal government on December 13 last year. 

Earlier, the National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA) had found that private medical providers had raked in profits of up to 1,700 per cent on drugs, diagnostics and consumables after forcing consumers to buy from their in-house pharmacies. An analysis by the national drug pricing watchdog found that non-scheduled drugs and diagnostic services constituted the major components of bills charged to patients in these hospitals.

Previous attempts by any government to regulate the private health sector in the country has come under severe opposition from the medical community. The Clinical Establishment Act has been adopted by only 16 states and Union Territories, most of whom are yet to implement the Act, a Central government official said. The Central government relayed the problem related to private healthcare saying that health is a state subject and that it is up to the states to adopt the Act. The Indian Medical Association or IMA, largely made of private doctors in nearly every state have opposed the Clinical Establishment Act tooth and nail.

According to media reports, it has been adopted by only 16 states and Union Territories, most of whom are yet to implement it. Under the provisions of the act it is compulsory for all the clinical establishments like doctor’s clinic, private hospitals, diagnostic centres, homoeopathic doctors and Ayush doctors to get them registered with the state council.

The act aims to regulate all clinical establishments with a view to prescribing the minimum standards of facilities and services provided by them.