The “exorbitant” cost of medical treatment in India on Thursday drew the attention of the Supreme Court which told the government to “do something” as the people were unable to get treatment due to the “huge cost”.
The apex court’s remarks assume significance as the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) had recently said that non-scheduled drugs and diagnostic services constituted major components of charges billed to patients in four private hospitals in Delhi and national capital region (NCR) with margins as high as 1,192 per cent.
As per an analysis done by the NPPA, the margin on procurement price of drugs used in emergency cases for treatment of potentially life-threatening low blood pressure was 1,192 per cent.
The drug pricing regulator had recently said that in case of Adrenor 2 ml injection with an MRP of Rs 189.95, the purchase price for the hospitals was Rs 14.70 but the patients were being charged Rs 5,318.60, including taxes.
“The cost of medical treatment is exorbitant in India. People are not getting medical treatment because of the huge cost. The government has to do something about it,” a bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Deepak Gupta said.
The top court’s remark came as it asked the Centre whether any study has been conducted on the effects of air pollution on the health of people and the amounts spent on medical treatment of such ailments.
Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni, appearing for the Centre, informed the bench that some study on the impact of air pollution on the health of people has been conducted while some studies on the issue were going on.
The bench also asked the Centre to give publicity to various steps being taken to tackle the issue of air pollution to make the people aware as to what was happening.
Nadkarni said they have already given publicity to such steps which have been finalised to deal with air pollution.
The apex court had earlier asked the Centre to look into the issue of air pollution on a nationwide basis and not confine it only to Delhi-NCR, saying it was a problem concerning the entire country.
The court was hearing a PIL filed in 1985 by environmentalist M C Mehta who had raised the issue of air pollution in the Delhi-NCR.