After Fortis Gurgaon episode, high margins on medical equipment come into focus
The hospital medical bills show that the large quantities of gloves and syringes were used during the 15 days of treatment.
Ever since the tragic story of seven-year-old Adya who died due to dengue at Fortis hospital in Gurugram came into the fore, the hospital has been receiving a lot of flak on social media for billing the family of the deceased Rs 16 lakhs.
The hospital medical bills show that the large quantities of gloves and syringes were used during the 15 days of treatment. Experts allege that hospitals are maximizing use of medical consumables with high profit margins. Medical bills of Adya Singh show that a total of 660 syringes and 2700 gloves were used.
The family of the deceased baby girl had to shell out a total of Rs 2.73 lakhs for the medical consumables. The hospital made her parents pay for the medical consumables at MRP.
However, documents with India Today suggest these are available to the hospital at a much cheaper price. Comparison of ex-factory price and MRP shows sterilized gloves (powdered) are available at ex-factory price of Rs 9.61 (per pair) but MRP is Rs 49. Sterilized gloves (powder free) come at ex-factory price of Rs 20 (per pair), while MRP Rs 75.
Similarly, examination gloves have ex-factory price of Rs 1.55 but its MRP is kept at Rs 5.00. In the case of disposable syringe (5 ML with needle), documents show they are available in the ex-factory price range of Rs 1.40 to Rs 1.80 + 12% GST but their MRP ranges between Rs 6.50 to Rs 23.00.
Another important medical consumable, the intravenous set that comes at ex-factory price between Rs 3.50 to Rs 9.50 +12% GST but the MRP is kept between Rs 35 to Rs 115. Similarly, the intravenous cannula (20G) comes with ex-factory price range between Rs 4.60 to Rs 25 + 12% GST but the MRP is Rs 102 to Rs 132.
The Modi government has already given relief to millions of heart patients by capping price of heart stents and Orthopedic devices. But activists are demanding price capping for medical consumables as well.
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Health activist Malini Aisola told India Today, "We have been saying this all along that there needs to be price regulation for medical devices. The current list of medical devices that include syringes, gloves, there is a critical need to cap the prices of these. Just like in the case of syringes, the ex factory price is just Rs 2 but its MRP is Rs 20. So those are the margins involved."
The medical device industry is also demanding rationalization of prices to stop this unfair trade practice.
Rajiv Nath of the Association of Indian Medical Device Industry said, "Hospitals are buying medical devices from those manufacturers who keep high MRP of their products despite low Ex factory prices. This is nothing but profiteering at the cost of patients, this practice is putting a lot of pressure on other manufacturers to do the same."
The Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare has called the Fortis episode an act of criminal medical extortion. The association has been fighting for rationalization of MRPs of Drugs and Medical consumables keeping in view the ex factory cost.