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Patients suffer due to nexus of doctors, drug companies

* Medical practitioners continue to prescribe costly medicines of their ‘favourite’ pharmaceutical companies to get commission, benefits
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KARACHI: Patients are suffering a lot due to breach of medical ethics in a majority of government-run hospitals, where they prescribe unnecessary costly medicines to the patients so as to increase sales of their favourite 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 favourite 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 favourite 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 price of these medicines sometimes ranges between Rs 3,000 and Rs 5,000. 
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 that up to 2,000 people visit different outpatient departments (OPDs) at the Institute of Skin Diseases Hospital on a 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 the condition of anonymity said the Provincial Health Secretary Iqbal Hussain Durrani on such complaints recently sought a report and the administration submitted a written reply to him. 
SISD Director Dr Hayat Baloch, however, could not be contacted for comment despite several attempts.
Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Secretary General (Centre) Dr Mirza Ali Azhar talking to the PPI said that the PMA was against all kind of corruption in society, especially at public-welfare departments. 
He said the PMA had a zero tolerance policy against all kinds of corruption in the medical field. He said generally doctors prefer medicines from private stores, keeping patients’ condition and availability of quality medicines at their hospitals in mind.
He, however, said that health practitioners who were 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 would take even deeper roots in society.
He demanded that the Provincial Health Department and other authorities concerned take strict action against doctors who were involved in malpractices at government-run healthcare centres in the larger interest of the public. 
Senior PMA Karachi leader Dr Qazi M Wasiq, when contacted, said that unethical practices at hospital were condemnable. He said a few people in the medical profession were involved in such malpractice. He said that generally doctors recommend medicines from private medical stores, because medicines purchased by the Health Department for government-run hospitals were inferior in quality.
He said that the PMA Karachi had always opposed the all kind of unethical practices in the 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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