Exclude drugs, disposables used in hospitals from VAT: Doctors to Punjab govt.

Members of the Medico Legal Action Group on Tuesday requested the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to exclude drugs and disposables supplied by hospitals, nursing homes and clinics to their patients from VAT.

Dr Neeraj Nagpal, convenor of MLAG, criticised the recent raids in Patiala by the excise and taxation officials. He said officials ignorant of the basic concept of sterile environment barged into operation theaters where surgeries were on. No notice was issued to any of these hospitals and no letter of authorisation of raid or identity card of raiding party was shown.

Dr. Nagpal said that administration of drugs or implanting devices and disposables in human body are part of treatment. A hospital is not a shop selling drugs and disposables or implants. He referred to a judgment of the Jharkhand High Court stating that supply of surgical items to indoor patients by hospitals is part of treatment process and cannot be called "sale".

Dr Paramjit Mann from Nawanshahar said the matter is not restricted only to stents, lenses and other implants but to the entire spectrum of drugs and disposables used by any doctor in his clinic or nursing home.

Dr J P S Sodhi from Patiala said, "Do all doctors who dispense any drug/disposable/injection need to be considered dealers engaged in the business of selling medicines and disposables?"

Dr Sanjeet Sodhi from Mohali said that doctors are permitted to stock and provide drugs and disposables to their own patients from their own pharmacy without opening a shop. This does not require a drug licence.

Dr Avtar Krishan from Delhi and a founder-member of MLAG, said the action by the Excise and Taxation officers had very serious implications. He said a similar issue was raised by Taxation officials in Delhi and Kerala where on intervention of the State Finance Minister, further action has been stopped.

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