'Prescribing food supplements unnecessarily to patients common'
October 26, 2019 08:10 AM NPT
By: Rohit Rai
DHARAN, Oct 26: After exposing that the doctors at BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences (BPKIHS) have been prescribing food supplements to patients unnecessarily, the market monitoring by the Department of Drug Administration (DDA) also found that hospitals in Jhapa and Biratnagar have been following the same practice to get commissions from the companies producing food supplements.
According to Sanjib Sharma Kattel, chief at DDA, Biratnagar, the doctors at Mechi District Hospital in Jhapa, B & C Hospital in Birtamode, Birat Medical College, Novel Medical College, Mechi Hospital and Birat Nursing Home, too, have been found prescribing food supplements unnecessarily to patients.
“The department has already sent letters to the hospitals to direct its doctors to stop prescribing food supplements to the patients unnecessarily. After the department sent letters to the hospital, the situation has been improving. BPKIHS has already directed its doctors to completely stop prescribing food supplements to the patients,” Kattel said.
“The department has already sent a letter to Novel Medical College and Birat Nursing Home. We have heard that doctors at Mechi Hospital, Novel Medical College, and BPKIHS have also stopped prescribing food supplements to patients,” Kattel said, adding that the department is regularly monitoring the market to improve the situation.
On October 18, a team from the Biratnagar office of DDA, while monitoring the pharmacies outside the premises of BPKIHS, found that doctors have been prescribing food supplements unnecessarily to patients. The stores were found selling more than 150 units of unregistered food supplements daily.
The department found that doctors were prescribing a food supplement tablet named 'Cabo Din' instead of Calcium D3 Calvit tablets to the patients requiring calcium supplements. Cabo Din is not registered with the 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 BPKIHS were found selling the tablet.
The department had found 160 to 180 banned food supplements from the pharmacies outside the premises of BPKIHS. Section 10 of the Drugs Act, 2035 bans the sale of unregistered medicines from pharmacies.
“Not only in the region, doctors all over the country are prescribing food supplements unnecessarily to the patients. We have started proper monitoring in the Eastern region. The department is also monitoring the issue properly in other parts of the country,” Kattel said, there are domestic pharmaceutical companies that produces vitamin, calcium that works like food supplements, but the doctors have been prescribing supplements that are not registered with the department.
Food supplements are being imported to Nepal by registering with the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC). Doctors prescribe food supplements as medicines to get commission from the companies. “A huge chunk of money is spent on the import of food supplements. Food supplements are being imported to Nepal from countries like India, Bangladesh, among others,” Kattel said.