NPPA sends notices to 40 hospitals not displaying knee implant prices

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has started cracking down on hospitals overcharging patients for knee implants, and has already put 40 hospitals on notice, more than a week after the authority imposed a cap on the prices of these overpriced implants.

The authority has threatened action against these 40 hospitals for failure to display the new prices of knee implants on their websites.

The drug pricing authority had directed hospitals across the country to publish the revised prices online so that patients would easily know how much they would be charged for these implants at different institutions.

NPPA tweeted late on Thursday that it is issuing notices to 40 hospitals across the country that have not published orthopaedic implant prices on their websites. Orthopaedic implants are used to replace parts of the knee joints that are damaged.

The NPPA named 40 hospitals, including Medanta-the Medicity and Artemis Hospital (Gurugram), Moolchand Medcity and Apollo Spectra Hospital (Delhi), Columbia Asia Hospital (Bengaluru) and Rockland Hospitals, PD Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Centre (Mumbai) among others as those not following its directives.

NPPA, however, did not say what action it would take against the hospitals failing to comply within the 28 August deadline. ''We will soon issue a memorandum to these hospitals,'' Bhupendra Singh, chairman of NPPA, said.

NPPA officials said action can be taken against erring hospitals under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.

As per the NPPA order, manufacturers, importers, distributors and stockists as well as hospitals, nursing homes and clinics are required to display on their website 'home page' the prices they charge on knee implant systems. They are also required to specify the brand names and the names of the manufacturing or marketing company of these devices.

The NPPA recently capped the prices, reducing the prices by as much as 69 per cent, as it found huge trade margins in orthopaedic knee implants.    

With NPPA's notification capping prices of knee implants, the most widely used complete knee implant (cobalt chromium) should now cost Rs54,720, excluding the goods and services tax (GST), against Rs1.58 lakh earlier.

Prices of knee implants made of special metals such as titanium and oxidised zirconium that are used in treatment of cancel patients, have also been capped at Rs76,600 against Rs2.49 lakh earlier.

Additionally, the NPPA also slashed the prices for patients requiring a second surgery to Rs1.13 lakh as against Rs2.76 lakh earlier.

While the price regulator has not received any complaints so far on overcharging or non-availability of knee replacement, the 40 hospitals it named were identified for not displaying prices on their websites.