The Supreme Court has ordered the Bir Hospital to run own pharmacy from July 17 onwards.
A division bench of Justices Baidyanath Upadhyay and Deepak Raj Joshi on Sunday issued the interim order asking the hospital not to rent out space to private firms to run outpatient pharmacies on the hospital premises.
Responding to a writ petition filed by Advocate Bishnu Prasad Timalsina on behalf of Forum for Protection of Consumer Rights – Nepal, the bench has ordered the hospital not to rent out space to private pharmacies.
Likewise, the court has ordered the Department of Health Services and the Ministry of Health and Population to restrict hospitals from renting out space to private pharmacies. The court has also urged them to ensure that all hospitals run their own pharmacies and also provide medicines listed as free by the government to patients.
The bench has stated that the existing National Health Policy has a provision of hospitals providing services through their own pharmacies and the Hospital Pharmacy Service Directives also has the same provision. The court has stated that despite the provisions, the hospitals were found renting out space to private pharmacies.
Advocate Timilsina on June 18 moved the apex court on the issue after the Bir Hospital published a tender notice on May 21 for renting out space to private pharmacies.
The Bir Hospital, which had been renting out spaces to private pharmacies for over Rs 1 million per month, had been saying that it has no money or manpower to run a low-cost pharmacy. The hospital has been receiving Rs 2.5 million grants from the Ministry of Health and Population to run a low-cost pharmacy.
Around 1,500 employees, including doctors, are currently working at the Bir Hospital. Of these, almost 50 percent of the employees are hired by the hospital development committee.
Patients get up to 70 percent discount on medicines in pharmacies run by the TU Teaching Hospital and Manamohan Cardiothoracic Vascular and Transplant Center. Encouraged by this, the government had decided to run own dispensaries at all government hospitals across the country.