The maximum retail prices were often being manoeuvred and fixed at far higher than what should be the reasonable price: Ernakulam Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum

A consumer forum in Kochi has directed the Kerala State government to take adequate steps to make available life-saving drugs at reduced prices at its hospitals and Neethi medical shops.

The Ernakulam Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum issued the directive on a petition filed by Benny Joseph, general convener, Janapaksham. According to him, his organisation had taken care of the cancer treatment of a person called Rosa Varghese.

The petitioner said the hospital where she was undergoing treatment had charged Rs. 6200 for a vial of zoledronic acid in 2009.When approached, a medical shop owner gave him the same medicine at Rs.1, 400.The petitioner alleged that the hospital and the manufacturer of the medicine were adopting unfair and restrictive trade practice by limiting the sale of the drug.

Price list

he forum, consisting of its president A. Rajesh, members Sheen Jose and V.M. Beena Kumari, said it was mandatory that every price list must mention the prices lower than the maximum retail price that might be charged. Otherwise, it would amount to the restrictive trade practice.

Bargaining power
The consumer should have the bargaining power to purchase the articles at prices lower than the maximum printed prices. The consumers now were forced to think the maximum recommended price as the maximum retail price.

In fact, the objectives of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices were yet to be achieved. The forum further said the maximum retail price was not the last word about the price of a product. The maximum retail prices were often being manoeuvred and fixed at far higher than what should be the reasonable price.

‘No loss’

The forum observed that the complainant in the case was charged double the amount of the medicine. It was halved after he made fervent pleas to the medical shop owner.

It pointed out that the drug seller did not incur any loss for selling the drug at the reduced price. The manufacturer and distributor of the drug should not indulge in restrictive trade practices through private hospitals, the forum ordered.

Compensation

The forum also awarded Rs.5,000 as compensation to the complainant toward the litigation cost.

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