In a major relief to drug addicts undergoing treatment at private de-addiction centres, the Punjab government has capped the price of detoxification medicine buprenorphine. The move will check undue profiteering and commercialisation of treatment by private centres.
The government has fixed the price of one tablet of buprenorphine at Rs 7.5, which was earlier sold between Rs 30 to Rs 40 by private de-addiction centres. The move is part of steps being taken by the government to expand treatment facilities and control out-of-pocket expenditure of patients who are already facing social and economic hardships. The government has already allowed dispensing of takehome dose of detoxification medicines buprenorphine and naloxone from its outpatient opioid assisted treatment (OOAT) clinics.
There are around 7.5 lakh drug addicts in the state, while the number of those undergoing treatment is nearly 2.50 lakh. A majority of patients are undergoing treatment at private centres.
Punjab principal secretary health Anurag Agarwal said the decision has been taken to guard patients against fleecing by private centres. He said the department will keep a close watch on these centres and take strict action against those found dispensing medicine above fixed price.
Punjab health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said that capping of price has been done in larger public interest and to reduce health cost. “Capping will bring down the out-of-pocket expenditure of a patient,” said Sidhu. – TOI