NPPA threatens legal action against 40 hospitals for not displaying knee implant prices

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NEW DELHI: Over a week after it capped the maximum prices of knee implants in the country, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has flagged 40 hospitals for not displaying the new prices on their websites. 

The drug pricing watchdog has threatened action against these hospitals, which were expected to make the revised prices available online so that patients would easily know how much they would be charged for these implants at different institutions. 

Knee implants are devices used to replace parts of the knee joints that are damaged. 

NPPA tweeted late on Thursday that it is issuing notices to 40 hospitals across the country that have not published orthopaedic implant prices on their websites. 

These hospitals may face legal prosecution under the Essential Commodities Act (1995), according to a notification uploaded on NPPA’s website late on Friday. 

Manufacturers, importers, distributors and stockists as well as hospitals, nursing homes and clinics are required by August 28 to display on their website ‘home page’ the prices they are billing knee implant systems, according to this notification. They are also required to specify the brand names and the names of the manufacturing or marketing company of these devices. 

This is a “logical extension” of paragraph 24 (4) of the Drug (Prices Control) Order, 2013, according to NPPA’s notification. 

“In case of non-compliance of these instructions, NPPA may be constrained to invoke the provisions of legal prosecution under Essential Commodities Act, 1995, apart from other provisions under DPCO, 2013,” it stated. 

Paragraph 24 (4) of the DPCO states that retailers and dealers of a product under price control have to display its revised price list on a “conspicuous part” of the premises where they carry out their business. This is so that the information is easily accessible to any person wishing to consult the same. 

On August 16, NPPA invoked emergency powers under the DPCO to slash prices of knee implants by up to 69% instead of waiting for the health ministry to bring the devices under the National List of Essential Medicines. These implants would on average cost anywhere between Rs 1.58 lakh to Rs 1.82 lakh, depending on the material used to make them. 

The price cap was needed to allow 1.5-2 crore patients to be able to afford arthroplasty interventions as only around a lakh such people were in a position to pay for the procedure otherwise, NPPA’s price cap notification suggests.