The Punjab Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution recommending the state government to cap the profit margins on medicines charged by private players.
Politicians from both sides of the aisle recommended the state to take up with the Centre the “looting” of people by exorbitantly priced medicines.
Raising the matter in the ongoing budget session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, some members suggested capping of profit margins on medicines, while many others, mainly from opposition, demanded strengthening of the government health sector in the state.
As he moved the resolution in the House, AAP MLA from Chamkaur Sahib, Dr Charanjit Singh, said exorbitant rates of medicines was robbing people of their money forcing many people to sell their properties to afford costly medicines.
Not only chemists, but several known private hospitals are selling medicines at higher prices than MRP, said Dr Singh, adding that the matter was not peculiar to Punjab, but afflicts the whole country.
He said government doctors were not recommending generic medicines, and urged the government to make it incumbent on them to prescribe generic medicines to patients.
He further said it should also be made mandatory that only salt of medicines should be prescribed without any mention of a drug company.
Having said this, the lawmaker sought from the Centre to frame a concrete policy in this regard to check the malpractice.
Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira said “Private sector health sector is fleecing people like anything.” People especially in rural areas were being financially burdened because of costly healthcare services, which is becoming out of reach of a common man, he said, as he demanded regulation of the private healthcare sector.
Cabinet Minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer suggested that the profit margin on medicines should be capped.
He said that costly medical education was also one of the reasons for the expensive medical treatment and suggested that there should be a policy under which some percentage of medical seats in government colleges should be either free of charge or offered at a low fee.
It will not only help poor students to study medical education but will also solve the problem of shortage of government doctors in health facilities, he added.
Participating in the discussion, Punjab Health minister Dr Balbir Singh accused the e-pharmacy sector of indulging in malpractice, and urged the Union Health minister to regulate it.
He said there are 25 ‘jan aushadhi’ centres in the state and approval for opening of 16 more such centres has been given.
The minister urged the MLAs to allow opening of more such centres in their respective constituencies.
He further said the AAP government was making efforts to provide world-class health care services to people of the state.
He said out of 500 Aam Aadmi clinics, 70 per cent were opened in rural areas of the state.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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