- Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (Phana) wrote to the drug controller on October 14
- Phana complained of threats by medical oxygen manufacturers to stop the supply
- Companies have cited higher transportation post capping of medical oxygen prices
THD NewsDesk, Karnataka: On October 14, Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (Phana) wrote a letter complaining about the irregular supply of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) to the state drugs controller. Bengaluru private hospitals are in a fix. Confronted with adamant oxygen manufacturers who have threatened to halt oxygen cylinders’ supply, the healthcare facilities are struggling to serve their patients.
Earlier, on September 26, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) had fixed the maximum rate of liquid oxygen at Rs 15.22 per cubic meter. To make up for the loss, the oxygen manufacturing companies began citing exorbitant transportation and handling charges. The companies’ new costs will add up to Rs 40.30 per cubic meter of LMO instead of the current Rs 23.50 per cubic meter. In its defense, the NPPA clarified that price-capping of transportation charges came under the ambit of state governments yet, Karnataka failed to take any required measures.
In response to the malpractices adopted by the companies, Phana urged the officer to intervene. They put forward their demand for an unhindered supply of medical oxygen, essential for treating Covid patients.
“We’re having an issue with oxygen supply. Some major suppliers are threatening to stop the supply if we don’t pay them double the prescribed rates. At present, they are charging Rs 16 per cubic metre plus Rs 5 for transportation and GST. On top of that, they are demanding Rs 15 extra per cubic metre, which is exorbitant,” said Phana president Dr. R Ravindra.
“With the increase in the rate of oxygen and the fixed rates earmarked by the government for Covid wards, it is difficult to sustain the hospital management which in turn can affect Covid patients.”
Subsequently, the state’s drugs controller department directed an official to visit a Bengaluru private hospital challenged by an acute oxygen shortage. However, there have been no reports relating to the no follow-up action initiated so far. Fortunately, the Commissioner of health and family welfare department, Pankaj Kumar Pandey, has come to the hospitals’ rescue. The officer has guaranteed the private healthcare institutions that he would look into the matter.
There have been no reports of a shortage of oxygen so far to the state’s good fortune. However, the irregular supply of medical oxygen may eventually lead to impediments in treating Covid patients. Declining oxygen saturation level can cause difficulty in breathing, and therefore, high-flow nasal oxygen is essential for hospitalized patients.
On average, Karnataka needs 500 metric tonnes of liquid oxygen daily. To assist the hospitals, the state government notified industries to restrict liquid oxygen usage and instead divert it to medical institutions. Currently, manufacturers from Karnataka’s neighboring states Telangana, Maharashtra, and Odisha supply LMO to its hospitals. Post the price-capping of medical oxygen; manufacturers started complaining of high transportation. Addressing the issue, state Health Minister K Sudhakar has appealed to the medical professionals to remain calm until the issue is resolved.