Guwahati, Aug. 22: The Assam government has warned pharmacies situated on the premises of Gauhati Medical College and Hospital of cancelling their licences if they are found luring patients into purchasing costly drugs.
GMCH superintendent Ramen Talukdar told this correspondent that there were allegations that owners of a few pharmacies were using touts or agents to pursue patients or their attendants to buy medicines from them. He said the involvement of a few GMCH staff in the racket could not be ruled out.
“Things took a serious turn when health and family welfare minister Himanta Biswa Sarma received complaints directly from some patients during his visit to the GMCH, he said, adding that the minister ordered a probe to find out the culprits and to initiate action.
“On January 16, a tout was caught red-handed while trying to resort to this practice with relatives of a patient admitted at the ICU in the emergency wing. I convened a meeting the next day with all pharmacists and a few medical staff,” Talukdar added.
He said though he issued a warning to pharmacists to refrain from such activities, things did not change for the better. He said it was a matter of serious concern that patients were forced to buy medicines from pharmacies outside the main hospital building though the GMCH had a central pharmacy to provide free drugs to patients.
The central pharmacy is situated inside the main hospital building.
“Two senior drugs inspectors came to the GMCH on the instruction of the health minister and discussed the issue with me and the pharmacists. They were told that their licences would be cancelled if they were found luring patients. Medical staff involved in such acts will also face tough action,” he said.
Talukdar said the hospital was not against the pharmacies doing business. In fact, some good pharmacies were really serving patients well by making medicines, which are sometimes in short supply at the GMCH central pharmacy, available to patients round the clock, he added.
Some pharmacists and doctors, however, do not agree with Talukdar.
“Most of the medicines are not available at the central pharmacy all the time,” a pharmacist said.