Why do so many Indian pharmacies charge for ‘medical supplies’
An article on the NDTV channel in India said that the prices charged by some of India’s top pharmacy schools for ‘medicine supplies’ were high, as they were not reimbursed by the government.
“I have seen that in a couple of schools that I went to, such as Niti Shastri Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (NISIMS) and the Pune Institute of Pharmacy (PIP), they charge between Rs.2,000 and Rs.3,000 per unit.
I’ve seen that at some of these places, there’s a price tag of Rs.4,000 to Rs.5,000,” a pharmacist named Bhola Singh told NDTV.”
In the case of NISIM, they charged Rs.1,000 for a unit, and Rs 2,000 at a pharmacy, which was quite shocking to me.
The prices that I have seen at NIS IM were only Rs.800 per unit, so that’s quite shocking,” he added.
NDTV said the prices varied from school to school, and they would not comment on individual schools.
But NISIS, the country’s largest pharmacy school in terms of enrollment, told NDtv that the price for ‘basic’ supplies was just Rs.50 per unit (which is what NDTV reported), and it would refund Rs.100 to Rs200 if a patient were to request for it.
NDtv did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Quartz.
However, NISI, which is located in a state of Maharashtra, said that its prices for medicines are reimbursed in the form of a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) which includes Rs.500 reimbursement per unit for the first month, and a monthly fee of Rs 50 per unit thereafter.
NDCTV quoted NISIm’s senior vice-president, Shabnam Anjum, as saying, “The cost of these PBM is reimbursed at a fixed rate of Rs 500 per month for each patient.”NISIm also told NDCTV that it had reimbursed the entire pharmacy benefit for the entire year of 2014, and would refund the full amount in the near future.
ND TV also quoted Shablam as saying that “any pharmacist can write a PBM.
It’s an open system.
Any pharmacy can get a PAM.”
A pharmacist who spoke on condition of anonymity told Quartz that the PBM process is a complicated one, but in general, a pharmacy’s PBM cost is reimbursable to the pharmacist, and then reimbursed to the customer.
“They have to fill out the application, and if they are successful, they’ll be reimbursed,” the pharmacy shopkeeper said.
“The payment is deposited in the account of the PAM, which then gets the reimbursement for the medicines.”
NDTV also spoke to a pharmaceutician who was a pharmacompany at NITM-I, a private pharmacy in Mumbai, who said that his pharmacy had no ‘medics’ in its supply chain, and that it did not charge a ‘medication’ price for supplies.
The pharmacist told ND TV that “there is no reason why a pharma should charge for medicines, since they are not a part of our business.
If they want to charge a higher price for a product, then they can, but they should not charge more than they are legally entitled to.”