Abid Hussain

Authorities promote unfair trade under the brand of ‘fair price’…

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‘Fair price’ medical shop in Budgam refuses ‘obligatory’ discount on medicines

Budgam, May 20: A ‘fair price’ medical shop operating in the premises of Aga Syed Yousuf Memorial (ASYM) district hospital in Budgam is denying patients obligatory discounts on the medicines.

A group of patients present at the hospital told ‘Kashmir Images’ that they are never allowed any discounts on the medicines sold by the so-called ‘fair price’ shop.

To prove their claims, some patients showed this reporter the bills they had obtained from the said shop after purchasing some medicines from there. These bills, copies of which are with ‘Kashmir Images’,  make it clear that the patients are charged as per the exact retail price as printed on the medicines and not a single percentage point of discount is allowed.

“If the said medical shop is not selling medicines at discounted prices, then why at all is it being allowed to operate from the hospital premises?” questioned one Shabir Ahmed, who was attending on some patient at the hospital.

Another patient told ‘Kashmir Images, “I had to undergo an emergency surgery for which I bought medicines from the ‘fair price’ shop for some Rs 15,000 – and even on such a huge amount not a single penny of discount was allowed.”

When contacted, Director Health Services Kashmir, Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman confirmed to ‘Kashmir Images’ that every ‘fair price medical shop’ is supposed to sell medicine at a discounted price.

“Those operating such medical shops have to offer at least 20 percent discount on the medicines,” the Director informed.

When informed that patients at the Budgam hospital are not offered this obligatory discount, Dr Rehman assured that he will take necessary action against the owner of the said medical shop.

Medical Superintendent of ASYM Hospital, Dr Deeba, in response to an RTI query filed by this reporter also admitted that the ‘fair price’ medical shop inside the hospital premises was not allowing any discounts to the patients.

But, contrary to what her boss — Director Health Services – says, Medical Superintendent Dr Deeba feels it is OK if the ‘fair price’ shop does not allow any discounts, because she believes it is not obligatory for it to offer discounts.

If one goes with Dr Deeba’s assertions, then someone in the Health department must bother to explain and inform people as to why then name such shops as ‘fair price’ shops if they are not obligated to allow certain percentage of discounts. And, why at all then allow such shops to operate from within the hospital premises?

In such a situation, the concernment department (read government) is simply facilitating cheating of the gullible patients and their attendant by the owners of such ‘fair price’ shops whose business practices are far from being fair!

Interestingly, when contacted to seek their views on the issue, other concerned authorities remained tightlipped.

Drug Inspector Budgam, Imtiyaz Ahmad Malla said, “The issue doesn’t come in our jurisdiction.”

His senior, Assistant Controller Drugs Kashmir, Mohammad Younis refused to comment. “We have to take permission from our superiors for talking to the press. Please come to our office, we will talk. Our superiors will be also there,” he told this reporter over phone.

Nazir Ahmad Dar, Assistant Controller Drugs, Budgam, also refused to comment saying “he is not authorised to speak to the media.”

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