NPPA Chairperson Transferred Soon After Expose on Pvt Hospitals
NPPA Chairperson Bhupendra Singh has been transferred. 
NPPA Chairperson Bhupendra Singh has been transferred. (Photo courtesy: Twitter/@Bhupendra_IAS)

NPPA Chairperson Transferred Soon After Expose on Pvt Hospitals

Chairperson of the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), Bhupendra Singh, under whom the NPPA had exposed how private sector hospitals were making undue high profits, has been transferred, giving rise to some serious questions.

Singh has been appointed to hold the post of Chairman of the National Authority for Chemical Weapons Convention. The NPPA is the authority which oversees the regulation of drug prices and is expected to ensure their availability.

According to Scroll, Singh had led the organisation into releasing a report on 20 February that referred to huge profits made by private hospitals by inflating bills for medicines as well as those for syringes, gloves and other medical tools.

The report, says Scroll, found that the margins of profit on some items were as high as 1,700 percent.

According to IndiaSpend, the NPPA had found that the total expenditure on drugs, devices and diagnostics (46 percent) was substantially higher than procedures and room rent (11 percent), which were more visible components, even though they weren’t a part of the publicised package.

The report adds that patients often complained that final bills were three times the initial estimate.

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The NPPA, under Singh, had thus called for several policy interventions which would curb these unlawful profits, something that probably didn’t win him the confidence of several persons in the private health sector and the government, reports Scroll.

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According to Economic Times, the NPPA under Singh had also slashed the prices of cardiac stents by over 80 percent in 2017, in a bid to improve a heart patient’s access to the device.

Along with this, the report adds, the NPPA had also fixed maximum prices and trade margins of knee implants in "public interest", which led to a 69 percent drop in their retail prices.

Considering the NPPA’s exposé of the corruption abound in the private health sector under Singh and the latter’s actions in trying to curb the same, the reason behind his sudden transfer has made several professionals in the field suspicious.

Speaking to The Quint, Rajiv Nath, coordinator of Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AIMED), voiced his doubts regarding the motive behind Singh’s transfer.

One thing is for sure, this action of sudden transfer is indicative of power of lobbies that opposed Bhupendra Singh’s initiatives – US MNCs win this round by using the US Government to lobby with the PMO. And the loser is the consumer and Indian med tech manufacturers. 
Rajiv Nath to The Quint

“Change is inevitable but should not be disruptive. Let's hope the excellent initiatives taken by Bhupendra Singh are carried forward by next incumbent,” he added.

(With inputs from Scroll, Economic Times and IndiaSpend)

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