National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has found that over 25 percent of the bill charged by four private hospitals in the National Capital Region of Delhi on some of their patients was on drugs that were out of price control. The share of the prices of medicines with government fixed maximum retail price was just 4.1 per cent of the overall bill.
In a statement on Tuesday, NPPA said that the analysis was made on the billing details provided by these hospitals, against whom there were complaints of overpricing and inflated bills. NPPA termed that the pattern indicates an attempt to claim higher margins as doctors-hospitals preferred and prescribed non-scheduled branded medicines instead of medicines under price control. Adding that the scheduled medicines or medicines under the National List of Essential Medicines cover all drugs that are essential, it said that the disclosure was done to remove information asymmetry between patients and hospitals and for greater transparency in healthcare system.
NPPA sought details of the bills after relatives of four patients who died while being treated for dengue and other ailments demanded action against hospitals for overcharging them. NPPA has not disclosed the identify of the hospitals on their request. Of the Rs 69 lakh plus that was charged from these four patients, Rs 17.79 lakh was billed against non-scheduled formulations. The cost of scheduled formulations was Rs 2.84 lakh. Diagnostic services charged over Rs 10 lakh was the second biggest component in the bill. Cost of procedures (11.4 per cent), consultation and medical supervision (12.7 per cent), room rent (11.6 pr cent), consumables (9.56 per cent) were the other major cost components.
NPPA also said that its analysis showed that the drugs variants of scheduled formulations launched by manufacturers in the name of new drugs and fixed dose combinations to keep those medicines out of price control is the preferred route to circumvent price control limit for manufacturing and medical fraternity. It also criticised the hospital pharmacies for preferring such medicines in their stock.