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The demand follows the Pune District Consumer Redressal Forum's ruling in favour of Jitendra Kelkar (70) who fought against the prevailing practice at Sahyadri hospitals. The forum ruled that unilaterally imposing such a condition on patients is `unfair trade practice.'

"The appeal against the forum's ruling was rejected by the state and national consumer redressal commission and the hospital was ordered to pay Rs 40,000 to Kelkar," said senior health activist Anant Phadke of Jan Aarogya Abhiyaan, a statewide coalition of civil society organizations working on health is sues.

Health activist Abhijit Mo re said, "Hospitals justify this compulsion by saying if the medicine is ineffective, the pa ients blame them. However his is a misleading argument because a medicine may not work effectively for a number of reasons. The real reason for his compulsion is that the purchase price of many medi cines for hospitals is very low compared to the maximum re ail price (MRP) and hospitals charge the patients as per the MRP to earn huge margin."

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has issued a directive to all city hospitals asking them to put a board in their pharmacy stating that patients can buy medicines from other medical stores too.

"The Jan Aarogy Abhiyaan demands the civic body should take action against the hospitals who have not complied with this directive. The Maharashtra Clinical Establishment Act contains right to choose a pharmacy and other patient's rights, but the draft is gathering dust in the Mantralaya. The legislation should be implemented without further delay," said health activist Suhas Kolhekar.
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