One of the signs of a healthy heart, they say, is that you don’t even notice it. The same could be said about scams: whatever be the size of the swindle, it’s roaring business as long as it passes under the radar. An ongoing scam of huge proportions popped briefly into view on December 7 when the Delhi High Court ordered the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) and other parties to fix and label the maximum retail price (MRP) of every cardiac stent, used for angioplasties, sold in India.
Cardiac care is anyway an area where patients often bear a double cross, pun intended. To begin with, they are desperate to live; and then, being mostly medically illiterate, they are totally at the mercy of the experts. But it’s frightening to think one of the reasons why angioplasties are prescribed so routinely could be because there’s a lot of money flowing through that small metal or plastic tube that’s placed in the patient’s arteries. Without an MRP, says Birender Sanghwan, advocate, consumer activist and the petitioner in the case, patients are charged anywhere between 300-700 per cent of the price at which the hospital would have bought it.