Unethical trading of medicines for hospital use rampant in the country

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The unfair practice of supplying medicines meant for hospital use to hospital pharmacies in violation of Drugs and Cosmetics (D&C) Act, 1940 and Rules thereunder has become widely rampant in the country. This according to sources has badly impacted pharmaceutical trade in the country.

Some major pharmaceutical companies have been identified for diverting drug supplies meant for patients at the point of care to pharmacies located at the premises of hospitals in contravention to norms.

For instance, Enzoflam tablets, PAN-D tablets, PAN 40 tablets manufactured by Alkem Laboratories with stamp “for the use of hospital and nursing homes only” have been found to have billed in the name of hospital pharmacies at wholesale rate. As per norms, medical stores at hospital premises are supposed to get extra strips of the tablets free. Fake orders for medicine supplies have been reportedly made without the knowledge of hospital administration.

The products or medicines in such cases of illegal practice were not labeled in accordance with the provisions of Rule 96(1) (v), 96(7) (vi) of D& C Rules 1945. Hence they are deemed to be “misbranded” drugs as per section 17(b) read with Rule 96(7)(v), 96(7)(vi) stipulating drug labeling norms and are punishable as per section 27(d) of the provisions of D&C Act.

Besides this, Alkem has also allowed hospital pharmacies to engage in profiteering. The products have been supplied to hospital pharmacies at cheaper rate which are usually sold to patients at exorbitant prices. For instance, the hospital medical stores get a strip of Enzoflam for Rs.45 whereas pharmacies near hospital premises get a strip of Enzoflam for Rs.85. But, these are sold to patients at an MRP of Rs.125.50 per strip. PAN-D strip containing 15 capsules is sold to hospital for Rs.64 while it is sold to patients at the MRP of Rs.178 per strip. PAN 40 is sold to hospital medical stores for Rs.40 while it is sold to patients at the MRP of Rs.138.

The ongoing unfair trade practice in the country is also in contravention to Section 418 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) which stipulates “whoever cheats with the knowledge that wrongful loss may ensue to person whose interest the offender is bound to protect.” This section is bailable, non cognizable and compoundable punishment with an imprisonment of 3 years or fine or both.

Taking serious note of the unfair trade practice, Nadie Jauhri, an activist, had written to director (monitoring and enforcement) National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA), Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) and Dr Pallavi Darade, Commissioner, Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the issue. So far nothing has been done in this regard.

Meanwhile, an e-mail sent to Akem Laboratories for response remained unanswered so far.

Source : 1

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