Earlier this week, a Chandigarh Newsline investigation showed how the price of the same medicine varies by upto Rs 1,500 at different chemists located on the PGIMER campus. Now CNL found that a medicine of the same brand is being sold at PGIMER at a much higher price than at chemists outside. Here is the shocker: the difference in price is as high as Rs 1,000.
A private chemist at PGIMER, whose outlet is at a vantage location — outside the Nehru Emergency — sells Merocrit 1gm (Meropenem) injection for Rs 1,550. The printed MRP on the injection is Rs 3,330. The chemist offers nearly 50 per cent discount on it. The same injection of the same brand name, manufactured by the same pharmaceutical company, is being sold by a private chemist in Sector 11-D for under one-third that price, at Rs 550. Another private chemist in Sector 15 was selling the same brand at Rs 750.
When PGIMER director Jagat Ram was asked about this huge price difference inside and outside PGI, he said, “A special committee shall be formed by the institute to study the entire issue. The committee will find how we can improve the existing system in order to pass on the maximum benefit to the public.”
On Monday, Chandigarh Newsline had highlighted the price variation for four medicines at five different chemist shops located on PGI campus. One of these four medicines was Meropenem, the salt name for a widely prescribed antibiotic injection. Each sold as different brand at different pharmacies in PGI.
Also read | Why price difference? Rent one of the factors
The private chemist at Nehru Emergency sold the medicine under the brand name M-Penem 1 gm injection (Meropenem) at Rs 1,550, after a discount of 45 per cent. The MRP for this injection at this shop was Rs 2,850.
On Tuesday, CNL visited at least seven chemists across Chandigarh looking for M-Penem 1 gm injection. It was not available at any of these pharmacies.
Alternative brands were available with all the chemists, priced between Rs 350 – 700 after discounts on the MRP.
At the Sector 11 chemist, the salesman offered instead Merocrit (Meropenem) 1 gm injection, at Rs 550.
When CNL asked the private pharmacy at Nehru Emergency if they stocked Merocrit, the answer was in the affirmative, and the price, Rs 1,000 more than the price at the Sector 11 shop. At Rs 1550, it cost the same as M-Penem. Today, the Nehru Emergency pharmacy salesmen said they did not have M-Penem.
The salesman at the Sector 11 shop said: “We still get a good margin by selling it at Rs 550.”
The senior management of the private chemist at Nehru Emergency was not available for comment. The mobile number printed on the receipt issued at the time of medicine-purchase was switched off. Salesmen at the shop refused to make any comment.
Merocrit 1 gm injection was available at another pharmacy in Sector 15 for Rs 750.
“The medicines are definitely cheaper outside because the rents for the shops inside PGI are more than Rs 50 lakh on average. Thus, the chemist who has to pay this high rent, will obviously sell the medicines at a higher price,” said Ashwani Munjal, chairman of the PGI’s Employees’ Union.
Criticising PGI for not having its own pharmacy, Munjal added, “It seems that there is a lobby which is not letting PGI open its own pharmacy. If PGI starts its own pharmacy, it will bring a huge relief to the patients because the medicines shall be available at discounted prices”.
PGI’s Medical Superintendent Dr Anil Kumar Gupta said, ” A chemist shop is a matter of Institute’s Estate Department. I cannot comment anything because its not under my jurisdiction”.