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HomeEducation AbroadForcing patient to buy medicine from In-house pharmacy

Forcing patient to buy medicine from In-house pharmacy

Infringing “Patients right to choose source for obtaining medicines or tests”

In the circuit bench of the Tamil Nadu State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Madurai adjudicating on the complaint no. CC No.44/2012 the State Consumer forum held the hospital and doctor have indulged in unfair trade practice. In this case the patient alleged that her sister was having the same blood group as that of her but then to she was forced to buy blood from outside. The patient further alleged that she was forced to buy large quantity of medicine from in-house pharmacy which was disproportionate to that required for the treatment and that too above the MRP of the medicine. The court held the hospital guilty of indulging in all the counts. The court asked the hospital as to why the patient was forced to buy blood from blood bank when the relative was having same blood group. Also the court pointed out that Venflon was purchased on daily basis alongwith syringes. The court asked the hospital as to why venflon was purchased on daily basis and what was the need to buy 50 syringes once the venflon has been fixed as the medicine and liquid has to be administered through Venflon. The State consumer forum held the hospital and the doctor indulging in unfair trade practice.

It is noteworthy in the “Charters of Patient Rights” by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (Mohfw), the right no.11 speaks in length about the right to choose medicines and tests. The said patient right in the the charter says

“11. Right to choose source for obtaining medicines or tests

When any medicine is prescribed by a doctor or a hospital, the patients and their caregivers have the right to choose any registered pharmacy of their choice to purchase them. Similarly when a particular investigation is advised by a doctor or a hospital, the patient and his caregiver have a right to obtain this investigation from any registered diagnostic centre/laboratory having qualified personnel and accredited by National Accreditation Board for Laboratories (NABL).

It is the duty of every treating physician / hospital management to inform the patient and his caregivers that they are free to access prescribed medicines / investigations from the pharmacy / diagnostic centre of their choice. The decision by the patient / caregiver to access pharmacy / diagnostic centre of their choice must not in any ways adversely influence the care being provided by the treating physician or hospital”

Effectively the patient has the right to choose the pharmacy of his/her choice to purchase the medicine for treatment as advised by the doctor. Also, the patient has the right to obtain the investigations advised by the doctors in any registered diagnostic centre/ laboratory which is accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Laboratories (NABL).

The other issue as discussed in the case above speaks about the quantity and the pricing of the medicine if sourced from the in-house pharmacy of the hospital. The hospital should charge only for the medicine consumed by the patient and that too at the MRP of the medicine.

Adv Khalil Girkar

Advocate, Mumbai High Court