Doctors-drug companies’ nexus exploits patients

Karachi: Patients are suffering a lot due to breach of medical ethics in majority of government run hospitals, where they prescribe unnecessary costly medicines to the patients so as to increase sales of their favorite pharmaceutical companies who reward them with commission and other benefits.

Sources said that malpractice is present in almost all government-run hospitals of Karachi. Quoting an example they said some doctors of Sindh Institute of Skin Diseases (SISD) Hospital Karachi with the nexus of pharmaceutical companies has started this sort of private practice at hospital during their duty hours where they prescribe unnecessary and costly medicines of their favorite companies and also ask patients to buy them from some nearby medical stores. However, the authorities concerned have failed to control this malpractice.

The sources said these doctors prescribe these expensive medicines from their favorite medical stores situated outside the hospital rather than providing them medicines from the hospital pharmacy for different skin diseases. They said that these doctors even use their private pads for prescribing expensive medicines from private medical store. The prices of these medicines sometimes ranges between Rs 3,000 and Rs5,000. The sad fact is that many of these medicines are available in the hospital pharmacy for free of cost distribution among patients.

This malpractice is putting heavy financial burden on poor patients suffering from skin diseases, the sources said, adding up to 2,000 people visit different Out Patient Departments (|OPDs) at Institute of Skin Diseases Hospital on daily basis.

They said the administration has received many complaints against this group doctors involved in malpractice but often these complaints are hushed up.

A senior official of hospitals on condition of anonymity said the Provincial Health Secretary Iqbal Hussain Durrani on such complaints recently sought a report and the administration submitted written reply to him.

Director SISD Dr Hayat Baloch, however, could not be contacted for comment despite several attempts.

Secretary General Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Centre Dr Mirza Ali Azhar talking to the PPI said PMA is against all kind of corruption in the society, especially public welfare departments. He said PMA has a zero tolerance policy against all kinds of corruption in medical field. He said generally doctors prefer medicines from private stores, keeping patients’ condition in mind and availability of standard medicines in their hospitals.

He, however, said health practitioners who are involved in this malpractice in hospitals should be treated strictly. He said if the concerned authorities could not take steps to eliminate corruption now then the corruption will take even deeper roots in society.

He demanded of the Provincial Health Department and other concerned authorities to strict action against doctors who are involved in malpractices at government-run healthcare centers in the larger interest of public.

Senior PMA Karachi leader Dr Qazi M Wasiq, when contacted, said unethical practices in hospital are condemnable. He said a few people in medical profession are involved in such malpractice> He said generally doctors recommend medicines from private medical stores, because medicines purchased by the health department for government-run hospitals are inferior in quality.

He said PMA Karachi has always opposed the all kind of unethical practices in medical profession that further increase patients’ miseries.

He demanded of the government to immediately imposed ban on the pharmaceutical companies selling substandard medicine in markets.

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