Even as the NPPA and the drug control departments in all the states in the country are carrying out inspections in all the hospitals having cardiology departments to find out whether the price-capped coronary stents are overcharged by the hospital authorities, the drugs control administration in Tamil Nadu is remaining a silent spectator without conducting inspections in any hospital.
When checked with the top level officers in the department, one officer said the department has not received any complaint from patients about overcharging of stents. He said the TNDCA has held discussions with the marketing companies and all of them have agreed not to charge anything more than the MRP. But he is unaware of the fact that hospitals are charging extra money for stents.
The department has so far not initiated any step to regulate the high prices of stents and direct the hospitals to comply with the prices fixed by the NPPA, it is alleged.
The ADC of Madurai zone said there are only two major hospitals with cardiology department and they are not collecting any extra money for stents. When asked whether any inspection was carried out in the hospitals, he said the department is not conducting any inspection to check overcharging of stent price.
Whereas in Kerala, following inspections carried out in hospitals by the state drugs control officials, two hospitals have informed the state drugs regulator that they refunded extra money charged from four patients for coronary stents.
Valliath Hospital at Karunagappally in Kollam district and St.Gregorios Hospital at Parumala in Patthanamthittah district have confirmed that they have refunded the money they overcharged on stents , said Revi Menon, drugs controller-in-charge, government of Kerala.
A.Saju, drug inspector at Kollam, who inspected the cath labs at the hospitals said, Valliyath hospital, in place of Rs.29,600 for the drug eluting stents, charged Rs.66,000, and St. Gregorios hospital collected Rs.44,000 each for three cases instead of charging the controlled price of Rs.29,600. He said a total of Rs.79,600 was charged by these two hospitals from four patients.
Inspection to check over-pricing complaints against hospitals treating heart ailments is continuing in Kerala, and if any violation is detected in any hospital, legal action will be taken as per DPCO provisions. Punishment for the case by the court will be under Essential Commodities Act, said the DC-in-charge.
On February 13, NPPA fixed the prices of drug eluting stents at Rs.29,600 and that of bare metal stents to Rs.7,260. NPPA had also directed all the hospitals in the country to abide by its order. Since the price of stent is now under DPCO, the state drugs control authorities are authorized by the NPPA to monitor the pricing of the stents.