ISLAMABAD: Doctors in the federal capital have been prescribing medicines that are only available in medical stores, besides sending patients to private laboratories for conducting expensive tests despite having the facilities in the hospitals they work at, patients visiting private and public sector hospitals told Pakistan Today.
Akbar Shahid, a 25-year-old patient, said that private practitioners, pharmacists and labs have been minting money as they are least bothered about the sufferings of poor patients.
“A doctor at the National Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine (NIRM) prescribed me some tablets for my injured shoulder. I visited all the leading pharmacies but did not find the tablets that were prescribed over there,” he said while adding that he was then told that the said medicine would only be available at a medical store near the hospital, therefore, he should go there or find a medicine made by another company using the same formula.
Akbar told that when he inquired about the reason of the medicine’s non-availability, he was informed that doctors often prescribe medicines of companies that are exclusively available at the medical stores adjacent to their hospitals or clinics.
Another patient, Afrasiab Khan, said that he visited a private practitioner in Bhara Kahu who prescribed medicines that were not available at any medical store in the area.
“I was really shocked to know that the doctor who prescribed the medicine was visiting the clinic for just one day on his friend’s request as the doctor who sits there daily did not come to work that day,” he lamented.
He further told Pakistan Today that medical stores informed him that they only kept medicines which were prescribed by the doctors having clinics in the proximity.
Similarly, despite the availability of state-of-the-art pathology and radiology departments at public sectors hospitals, including the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), it is a common practice to send poor patients to private laboratories for conducting various tests as the doctors do not accept the results of tests conducted in their respective hospital’s laboratory.
By doing so, the doctors not only add to the financial burden of poor patients but also taint the reputation of laboratories in public sector hospitals as it strengthens the perception that the standard of the testing mechanism in these hospitals might not be up to the mark.
Patients were of the view that doctors do so as they have their own financial interests in mind.
A citizen of Islamabad, Alyan, said that his mother has remained in a hospital’s emergency ward for several days during which the doctor has advised various tests while strongly recommending him to do get them done from private laboratories only.
He said when he asked the reason behind this, the doctor told him to do what is better for his mother instead of arguing.
A senior doctor at PIMS said that the only solution to break the nexus of doctors and pharmaceutical companies is to make it mandatory for doctors to prescribe medicines on generic names instead of brand names.
When approached, the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination spokesperson denied that any such practice might be taking place and said that if such a thing is happening it might be due to other reasons rather than the doctors having personal deals with medical stores.
He assured that the ministry’s inspection teams are regularly visiting medical stores to make sure that unregistered medicines are not sold.