Mumbai, 11.06.17: After finding that prices stents and cardiac catheters are massively inflated, the Maharashtra Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has found intraocular lenses and several other medical devices ranging from the humble urine bags to oxygen masks, too, are overpriced.
In a letter written to the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) on June 5, the then FDA commissioner Dr Harshdeep Kamble said that a study done by his team found a “huge difference of 200%-300%” between hospital’s purchase price for lenses and its maximum retail price (MRP). The FDA found, for instance, that the importer’s price for a particular lens was Rs 2,737, but its price was Rs 6,500 for the hospital and Rs 18,500 for patients. Lenses are medical devices implanted inside the eye to replace the eye’s natural lenses during cataract surgery.
“Patients suffer unnecessary financial burden due to such overpricing. Moreover, many patients in India pay for medical expenses out of their own pockets,” said a senior FDA official. FDA officials said a discussion during the state assembly’s winter session in 2015 focused on overcharging of various surgical equipment, instruments and medical devices. A study was subsequently carried out and a report was submitted to the state on November 21, 2016. The study found that the MRP of urine bags was 500% higher than the cost at which it was supplied to hospitals, similarly cost of oxygen bags was 300% times higher, said the officials. The prices of medical devices in India have been in discussion ever since the NPAA capped the prices of cardiac stents to Rs 30,000. The FDA has recommended that more items be declared as essential drugs so that their prices can be capped.