Only recently, the department awarded a contract to dispose of 491 tonnes of unused medicine — something seen as a criminal waste of taxpayers’ money by senior officials. The use of technology, doctors hope, will check leaks as well as fraudulent practices by doctors and hospital officials.
Bengaluru has accumulated 278 tonnes of unused medicines over the past 10 years, the highest proportion in Karnataka. Out of this, 187 tonnes of the stock have expired while 91 tonnes are Non-standard Quality (NSQ) medicine.
The health department has now mandated hospitals that doctors prescribe medicines available with the hospital store, which has to make online entry of the medicines issued to patients. This, according to health commissioner Subodh Yadav, will help with efficient management of inventory.
“Earlier, the hospital staffers used to write details of medicine distribution in a registry book. Officials failed to provide details of supply and demand. With the online distribution system, the staff has been strictly instructed to add the patient’s name and the medicine prescribed on a central server. An indent will be generated from the hospital following the distribution of medicine,” he said. He feels this will help the department purchase medicine as per the requirement.
“Improper supervision and monitoring of medicine distribution have led to this problem,” said Yadav. “Every year, the government spends nearly Rs 150 crore on medicine.
The tender issued to dispose 491 tonnes of medicine is not a year’s but the total figure of the past ten years. It cannot be denied that this is worth a staggering Rs 20 crore and is public money. We have strictly directed government doctors not to write any prescriptions or combination medicines to buy outside the hospital. Hundreds of doctors and nursing staff in government hospitals, who failed to comply, have been dismissed,” he added.
A series of stern measures by the Twitter-friendly Yadav comes in the wake of the corruption mafia in medicine distribution at government hospitals. According to a senior officer from the health department, many doctors at government hospitals were writing prescriptions that could be availed only outside the hospital. Typically, the government provides separate medicine for each illness. Taking undue advantage of this situation, doctors write prescriptions for combination medicines which can be bought at private medical stores.
Sometimes, medical stores paid these doctors to send patients exclusively to them. Even some drug manufacturing companies bribed doctors to suggest their company’s medicines, the officer said.