Following a series of public complaints received the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) is to start probing several leading private hospitals in Colombo for billing its patients with exorbitant rates for common drugs, which has maximum retail prices.

A senior official at the authority told that they have received a series of complaints from the public against several well-known private hospitals for charging certain most commonly used drugs thrice the amount of its maximum retail price.

The Ministry of Health with the Cabinet endorsement publicized a list of 60 essential and most commonly used drugs with its maximum retail prices reduced by 16% with effect from June 15, 2023.

He said the preliminary investigations carried out by them on the complaints and copies of the hospitals bills received from the public seemed to have proved these allegations and they will soon start probing these hospitals.

In certain instances the hospitals have billed its in-house patients Rs.15 for a single tablet of Paracetamol, which has a maximum retail price of Rs.3.75, the official said.

“It is common how private hospitals usually come up with exorbitant bills for the in-house patients including desired amounts for their room charges, doctor’s fee, linen and meal charges to maintain their overheads.

But it is illegal if they raise the prices of the commonly used medicines, especially when those are listed with a maximum retail price,” the officer said.

Some of the commonly used drugs that are being charged excessively at the said private hospitals had been identified as Paracetamol, Amoxicillin, Metformin, Antibiotics and Insulin, he said.

The NMRA officials in the South carried out an inquiry against a private hospital in Galle, which had violated the recent Gazette Notification of the reduced medicine prices, was produced in the courts this week.

source daily mirror