‘Doctors at BPKIHS prescribing food supplements unnecessarily to patients’

Published On: October 20, 2019 06:38 AM NPT By: Rohit Rai

Department of Drug Administration warns local pharmacies to return unregistered medicines and food supplements within a week

DHARAN, Oct 20: Doctors at BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences (BPKIHS) have been found prescribing patients with unnecessary medicines and unregistered food supplements that cost much more than the government-approved medicines.

For instance, the doctors have been prescribing a food supplement tablet named ‘Cabo Din’ instead of Calcium D3 Calvit tablets to the patients requiring calcium supplements, according to the Department of Drug Administration. 

Meanwhile, Cabo Din is not registered with the Department of Drug Administration (DDA) and costs Rs 20 per tablet, while Calcium D3 Calvit is a registered drug that costs only Rs 7 per tablet.

Although Cabo Din is not registered with the department, pharmacies outside of BPKIHS are selling the food supplement. “We know Cabo Din is a food supplement, not a medicine. But, we have to sell them as per the prescription of doctors,” says Birendra Gupta, owner of a pharmaceutical store.

Likewise, Ajit Thakur, another pharmacy operator, said drug companies largely influence the doctors. “Even if we sell registered drugs to patients, doctors return them afterward,” he added.

Local pharmacies told Republica that doctors at BPKIHS have been prescribing food supplements instead of medicines for the last five years. 

“The scenario has worsened in the last two years. The sale of food supplements is higher than medicines in this area. If doctors stop prescribing unregistered food supplements, we will stop selling it,” Subhash Paudel, general secretary of Sunsari chapter of Nepal Pharmaceuticals Association, said, adding that the pharmacies in the region have no other options than to sell medicines and food supplements prescribed by doctors.

A team from the Department of Drug Administration (DDA), Biratnagar, while monitoring the pharmacies outside the premises of the hospital on Friday, found that the stores have been selling more than 150 units of unregistered food supplements daily.

As the department tried to seize the supplements, pharmacists opposed saying the food supplements are often prescribed by doctors. According to Sanjib Sharma Kattel, head of DDA, Biratnagar the department has found that the doctors at BPKIHS have been prescribing unnecessary food supplements to the patients.

 Referring to an OPD card obtained by the department, Kattel said they have evidence of doctors prescribing unnecessary food supplements to a patient. 

As per the prescription, the doctor suggested the patient to take seven medicines, of which five are food supplements. “We have found malpractices in BPKIHS. The food supplements prescribed by the doctors are not even registered with the department,” Kattel said, adding that the doctors at BPKIHS have been prescribing food supplements that are banned in the Nepali market.

The supplements are imported from Australia, India and Bangladesh, among other countries. Meanwhile, some food supplements are banned even in these countries.

“I feel sad that doctors are prescribing food supplements for commission. One of the prescriptions shows the recommendation to consume food supplements for six months. They have been prescribing food supplements of Rs 10,000 for patients requiring medicines worth Rs 300,” Kattel said, adding the patients are also affected financially by the malpractice of doctors.

According to the department, it has found 160 to 180 banned food supplements from the pharmacies outside the premises of the hospital. The department failed to seize the supplements on Friday. The department has asked the pharmacies to return the banned food supplements within a week.

Meanwhile, the department also informed acting vice-chancellor of the institute, Dr Guru Khanal, and Dr Gauri Shankhar Shah, director of the hospital, about the incident. “If pharmacies don’t return the supplements within a week, the department will seize them with the help of security forces,” Kattel warned.

Meanwhile, Dr Khanal said this is a serious issue, and urged the DDA to investigate the issue properly.

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