A discussion will be held in the next session by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha to educate MLAs about the complexity and lack of transparency in determining the MRP for medicines to prevent patients from being fleeced due to inflated MRPs (maximum retail prices).
While visiting Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital here, Kultar Singh Sandhwan assured patients that there is enough room for fleecing since there is a huge difference between the actual price and the MRP of a large number of medicines.
Most patients or their relatives are unaware of the exorbitant rates because they are in a vulnerable position. Most hospitals sell some selected and expensive brands of medicines through their in-house medical stores. Several schemes and hefty margins are being offered to doctors and hospitals in the sale of these medicines, according to Bhai Kanayaiya Cancer Roko Sewa Society, which has exposed many such scandals.
Red Cross Society in Faridkot released a list of over 90 medicines with MRPs five to 10 times higher than their sale prices a while back. In addition to the local Government Medical College, the society operates four medicine shops at three Civil Hospitals in the district.
The MRP on many medicines is highly inflated. At the Red Cross shop, Ozon-OZ, a commonly used antibiotic, has a printed MRP of Rs 120, but is available for just Rs 26.
According to patients, some doctors and hospitals prefer prescribing non-scheduled branded medicines over scheduled medications to increase margins, explaining that manufacturers often release variants of scheduled drugs as “new drugs” or “fixed drug combinations” to avoid price control, thus diluting the purpose of establishing a National List of Essential Medicines.
As a result of buying medicines in bulk at cheaper prices, some hospitals forced pharmaceutical companies to print higher prices in order to earn “high profit margins”, resulting in “huge out-of-pocket expenses” for patients.
The manufacturing cost of these medicines might be Rs 10 and the MRP printed might be Rs 100, while customers are lured by medical stores offering discounts of between 10 and 50 percent,” said Kultar Singh.
Patients may not be aware of these discounts before purchasing a medicine. A medicine strip’s MRP or bottle’s price is often 10 times higher than the drug’s actual price,” he said.