India’s new government vows clampdown on healthcare graft
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
(Reuters) – India’s health minister called for tougher laws on Tuesday after a media report alleged that laboratories had offered kickbacks to doctors who referred patients to their diagnostic centres.
Harsh Vardhan has lashed out several times in recent days against bribery in the $74 billion healthcare sector, signalling that the new government will make tackling the corruption that blighted the outgoing administration a priority.
An undercover investigation by Hindi news channel News Nation that ran on Monday showed footage purportedly of reputed private laboratories offering commissions as high as 50 percent to doctors who referred patients to their diagnostic centres.
Officials at one laboratory visited by the channel’s undercover reporters said they had kickback arrangements with 10,000 doctors, with monthly payments running into tens of thousands of rupees for some doctors. (bit.ly/Ul7PBD)
Himself a doctor with a reputation for probity, Vardhan last week called the country’s drug approval agency a “snake pit of vested interests.”
Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, he said a panel of doctors and lawyers would advise on changes to the law specifically to prohibit kickbacks.