Fleecing the Public

Fleecing the Public
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Hundreds of private chemist shops and pharmaceutical distributors in Jammu and Kashmir are claiming huge margins on drugs in the absence of price control by the Drug Department.
It has been alleged that doctors in government and private hospitals are prescribing drugs that are not under price controls in order to claim freebies from retailers and distributors and share in their profits. The lack of regulation also allows private chemists to overcharge patients for medicines otherwise available at a low cost. If these allegations hold, then the whole saga smacks of a scam and is a clear cut instance of fleecing the public for illicit private gain. The sorry saga and its blatant criminal connotations are compounded by the fact that it is happening in an area or domain where it should not happen: medical care and the disbursal of medicines. At one level, it reflects the sheer callousness of those involved in this sordid practice( including some doctors) and the vulgar desire to eke out supernormal profits at the expense of suffering patients. At another, it reeks of the hypocrisy of some or many who choose to develop their careers in the field of medicine and the ecosystem thereof. The field of medicine, ideally, is a noble one wherein a given practitioner, in theory, commits himself or herself to alleviate the pain and misery of others. The same holds true, in varying permutations and combinations for those in the supply and value chain or the ecosystem of medical sciences. All this is not to suggest that those involved in the field of medicine must become sages and forego what is their due. No. Not at all. Being members of society having needs , all of us, have to make a living. We owe it to ourselves and our families, But, key here is dignified and honest living. This holds special salience and significance for those involved in the medical profession and the ecosystem thereof. Honest and ethical living should translate into a standard of morality that behooves this profession. But, at the end of the day, self regulation is something that is not the preserve of everyone. To keep moral and standards in the field of medicine along with a price regime that is transparent and fair calls for regulation of this field and sector. This must be done the soonest so that people do not suffer.