Chandigarh health secretary smells chemist-pharma nexus at GMSH-16, orders probe
The Chandigarh health secretary visited GMSH-16 posing as a patient, but could find the prescribed syrup only at one of the three chemists at the hospital; doctor also asked to explain the prescription
UT health secretary Yashpal Garg has instructed a drug inspector from the health department to investigate the relationship/agreement between the manufacturer of a syrup and a chemist at Government Multi-Specialty Hospital, Sector 16.
The directive came after the officer inspected the hospital on Saturday and observed that out of the three chemist shops located on its premises, only one had stocked the syrup, which was considerably more expensive than the alternatives available at the other two shops.
The doctor who prescribed the medicine has also been asked to give an explanation, with comments from the UT health services director and the GMSH medical superintendent.
Further, all chemist shops were found issuing bills only when specifically demanded. The health secretary has sought an explanation from the drug inspector, how such practices are occurring without detection.
Garg said complaints had been received, alleging that certain doctors were promoting specific chemist shops, drug brands and labs. Without disclosing any names, he said appropriate action will be taken if the allegations were found true.
Officer reached hospital complaining of stomach ache
Donning a kurta-pyjama with a scarf around his neck to avoid identification, the health secretary went around inspecting the hospital on Saturday evening.
The IAS officer reached the emergency department, complaining about abdominal pain and listed his name as “Rajpal”. On diagnosing him, the doctor on duty prepared an OPD card and prescribed an injection and a syrup named “MCAIN”.
Garg proceeded to chemist shop number 6 to buy the medicine that had a listed MRP of ₹225. When asked, the shopkeeper generated a bill for ₹227.
On moving to shop number 9 and asking for the same medicine, Garg was informed that the doctor had mentioned no specific salt and instead provided “MERKCID SYP” for ₹100, with a suggestion to show it to the doctor and get it replaced if found unsuitable. On being asked, the shopkeeper generated a bill for ₹102.
As Garg returned to the doctor with “MERKCID SYP”, the doctor suggested not to use it and instead indicated the salt “Sucral+Oxetac” on the same prescription slip. On seeing the updated prescription, the shopkeeper replaced “MERKCID SYP” with “SUFIT-O” and charged ₹35 more, before updating the old bill with the new amount of ₹136.
The health secretary proceeded to the third chemist shop, shop number 7, with the same prescription and obtained “RICAINE” syrup for ₹135 with a bill mentioning the same price.
Taking note that the syrup “MCAIN” was priced 67% higher than the other two syrups, Garg directed the drug inspector to investigate the relationship between chemist shop number 6 and the syrup’s manufacturer, and file a report within next 15 days. Garg said the medicine was manufactured in the vicinity of Parwanoo, Solan, Himachal Pradesh.
Advisory issued for health facilities, doctors
Following the inspection, the health department issued an advisory for government health facilities and doctors to comply with the National Medical Commission’s Generic Medicine and Prescription Guidelines. All physicians have been advised to maintain a date-wise diary, specifying reasons for prescribing branded generic drugs.
The facilities have also been advised to circulate the list of available generic medicines to all physicians and put it on institutional websites to make it accessible to public. All chemist shops within the premises of government health facilities should also be encouraged to ensure availability of generic medicines.
The health secretary will review the status of implementation of this advisory after a month.