• The Supreme Court has ordered Bir Hospital not to rent out its stalls for running pharmacies from July 17

KATHMANDU: The Supreme Court on Sunday issued an interim order in the name of the government telling it not to allow hospitals to rent their spaces to private company or individual to run pharmacies on their premises.

The bench also ordered the Ministry of Health and Population to ensure, till the court delivers final verdict on the writ, that none of the hospitals allowed any outsider company or individual to open pharmacies without the hospitals running their own pharmacies and providing free medicines to the patients.

A division bench of Justice Baidhya Nath Upadhyay and Dipak Raj Joshi issued the order in response to a public interest litigation filed by Forum for Protection of Consumer Rights against the government and Bir Hospital.

The apex court ordered Bir Hospital not to rent out its stalls for running pharmacies from July 17. For the period before July 17, the court ordered the hospital to run its own pharmacies and provide free medicines to patients and not act on a tender notice it had issued on May 21 to lease its space for running pharmacies.

FPCR Chair Jyoti Baniya said his office filed the writ against Bir Hospital after the latter issued a tender notice on May 21 seeking to rent out one stall for at least Rs 11 lakhs per month.

He said his office found that a pharmacy rented out by Bir Hospital was charging 90 per cent more on some medicines than a pharmacy at Man Mohan Cardiothoracic Vascular and Transplant Centre of Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital.

“We bought 21 types of medicines from MMCVTC and compared the prices of those medicines with those of the Bir Hospital pharmacy and found that it was charging 90 per cent more,” Baniya added.

He said if hospitals ran their own pharmacies, it would be a big relief for common people.

“Birgunj is one of the cities where medicines are manufactured but I found medicines expensive there than in the capital city. This happens because hospitals do not run their own pharmacies,” Baniya added.

The Supreme Court observed in its order that as per National Health Policy the hospitals needed to give service through their own pharmacies and the objectives of the Hospital Pharmacy Service Directives, 2013, hospitals needed to have their own pharmacies.

The court also ordered the hospital to ensure that it provided free medicines to the patients. The court observed that if Bir Hospital leased its stalls to run pharmacies, common people would have to buy medicines at expensive rates.