Rein in MRP or government will syringe makers told

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In response to a series of revelations on the huge margins charged by hospitals on medicines and consumables, the NPPA is learnt to have told syringe manufacturers that they could either voluntarily limit the margins and MRP or the government would have to step in to regulate them. 

In a meeting held on Monday, domestic syringe manufacturers suggested a cap of 75% on trade margins between ex-factory or import prices and the MRP. They recommended that this could be considered for other medical consumables or disposables apart from implants notified as drugs. The MRP in several cases was found to be as much as 20 times higher or 2000% over the price to hospitals. 

In the meeting with importers and manufacturers of disposable hypodermic syringes and needles, the NPPA chairman sought details of market dynamics and product categorisation and suggestions from manufacturers. Syringes are notified as drugs under the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) 2013. A recent investigation by the NPPA into the billing practices of Fortis Memorial Hospital in connection with the death of a seven-year-old girl found that the hospital had charged up to 1737% margin on medical consumables, over 900% on some non-scheduled drugs and up to 300% on many scheduled (under price control) drugs. 

"We have suggested a margin cap of 75% between ex-factory or import price for syringes instead of price caps. This would put an end to printing of inflated MRP," said Rajiv Nath, president of the All India Syringes and Needles Manufacturers Association (AISNMA). 

The NPPA had issued notice to the hospital following allegations of over-charging by the parents of the girl who died after leaving the hospital following dengue treatment for over two weeks in September. The authority had sought copies of the bills raised, names of the medicines administered and details of quantity and price charged. The girl's parents had complained they were billed heavily for 1,600 gloves, 660 syringes and many high-end antibiotics. The data submitted by the hospital showed that on syringes alone the margin charged by the hospital ranged from 1208% (bought for Rs 15 and sold for Rs 200) to 500% or six times the procurement price (bought for Rs 3.50 and sold for Rs 20.50).