Will act against those hiking medical oxygen price, Kerala govt. tells HC

Private hospitals appeal against ‘sudden price hike’ by supply agencies

The State government on Friday informed the Kerala High Court that stringent and timely action would be taken against those who violate the government order against hiking the price of liquid oxygen as well the order of the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) capping the price of medical oxygen.

The submission was made by the government counsel when a writ petition by the Kerala Private Hospitals Association against the hike in medical oxygen price came up for hearing before Justice V.G. Arun.

Fixed prices

The government further submitted that the NPPA, on behalf of the Union government, had fixed the maximum price (ex-factory), excluding GST, for liquid medical oxygen and oxygen inhalation (medicinal gas) in cylinder at ₹15.22 and ₹25.71 respectively, as per an order dated September 25, 2020. The price included the transportation cost of liquid medical oxygen cylinder. These caps on the prices had later been extended up to September 30, 2021.

The statement also said that as per an order issued on May 6, 2021, the State government had prohibited black marketing or unaccounted sale, profiteering and other unethical practices by hiking the price of life-saving medical oxygen during the times of its scarcity.

‘Unethical practice’

The association in its petition said that medical oxygen supply agencies had suddenly hiked the price of oxygen and started demanding reimbursement under the head of ‘COVID mitigating expenses’ and ‘additional transportation and handling expenses.’ At a time when the private hospitals were struggling to provide affordable quality care to COVID-19 patients, the untimely hike in the price of medical oxygen was unlawful. It was nothing but black marketing and an unethical practice. The hike would hamper the uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen, it said.

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