Private de-addiction centres in Punjab decide to close down in protest against govt.’s arbitrary decisions

Chandigarh, Nov 11, 2019 (Yes Punjab News)

The owners of the private de-addiction centres across the state have decided to close down, alleging that the state government was taking unilateral, arbitrary and authoritarian decisions without taking them into confidence.

The owners of the private de-addiction centres from across Punjab today held a meeting and decided to shut down the centres as, they said, the terms and conditions being imposed by the state government were not practicable.

Citing recent orders issued by the Health Department on November 4, there by capping the prices of buprenorphine at Rs 7.50, they said, it was an ill advised, ill conceived and illogical decision since the state government was not authorized to cap the prices of drugs.

They alleged that certain officials in the department had launched a vilification campaign against the private de-addiction centres by claiming that they were selling the de-addiction tablets at exorbitant prices.

Asserting that the order will not stand the legal scrutiny, they said, the government had already filed a caveat in the Hon High Court as it knew that this illegal order will be challenged in the court. “IF the government was so confident about the legality of the order, why did it need to file a caveat in the Hon High Court?” the asked.

“The government, for the reasons best known to it, wants us to purchase the de-addiction medicines from a particular pharmaceutical company at a particular price”, the de-addiction centre owners said, while adding, they did not have any problem in making available that particular medicine in their centrs but they should not be forced to make available only that medicine, while leaving out other medicines which are of better quality and more effective.

They said, the patients should have a choice to choose. “Like antibiotic capsules of same salt sell for different prices depending upon the brand, effectiveness, and credibility, same is the case with the de-addiction medicines”, they said, while pointing out, “it should be left to the doctor and the patient as which de-addiction medicine suits the addict better irrespective of its price”.

Questioning the government’s allegations that they were making exorbitant profits by selling costly medicines, they said, they definitely make profits but not the way government was trying to project it. They said, they do not take any consultation fee or any other charges from the patients. “We only charge for the medicines we provide them and every other expense incurred on running the de-addiction centre is borne with the profit margins.

They said, the government de-addiction centres roughly cater to about ten percent patients only, while ninety percent patients visit the private centres. They asserted that setting up a de-addiction centre was a highly cost intensive project.

First you have to arrange a building, which should have all the prescribed specifications. Besides, the doctors, the counselors, the nurses, supporting staff, overhead expenses like electricity and other things, incur huge expenses, which are borne with the profit margins only.

They asserted that they were providing the cheapest and the best available treatment to the patients. “Saying that we are charging Rs 30 for a tablet that should cost just Rs 6 is too simplistic a statement and based on grossly wrong presumptions”, they said, while adding, “like private hospitals cannot be compared with the government hospitals, in the same way private de-addiction centres cannot be compared with government de-addiction centres”.

Appealing to the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to intervene into the matter, they said, the government should have kept them in loop and taken into consideration their point of view also before taking a decision that will impact about fifty thousand addiction patients in the state and can even have adverse impact on the anti-drug drive of the state government.

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