July 07, 2010, New Delhi, India
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) recognises that it has an extremely important role to play in addressing competition concerns in social sectors such as health and education. This was observed by Geeta Gouri, CCI Member, while speaking at the launch meeting of a project entitled, “Collusive Behaviour in Health Delivery in India: Need for Effective Regulation” held at the India International Centre yesterday.
The project is being implemented by CUTS International, a civil society organisation which has done pioneering work in the field of competition and regulation in India and other developing countries. It is being supported by Oxfam India. This year long project aims to address collusive behaviour in healthcare delivery in the country and would involve field work, collection of secondary data, analytical research and the organisation of workshops. The launch meeting was organised to identify key stakeholders in the sector whose cooperation is needed to tackle collusion in the sector and initiate dialogue among them to concretise action in that regard.
Dr. Gouri informed the gathering that the Commission has the powers to take necessary action if evidence of collusive practices was shared with it though due caution had to be exercised in the use of such power. It deserves mention here that the CCI has recently initiated investigations into practices of drug trader associations across the country.
Dr. Mira Shiva, a veteran healthcare expert urged the government to take immediate action to stall the progressive decline in healthcare delivery in the country, to which collusive behaviour is a major contributing factor. She lauded the pioneering efforts of both CUTS and Oxfam in launching the project.
S Srinivasan, a well known expert on rational drug use illustrated how big players in the pharmaceutical market have been making supernormal profits through high prices which in turn have contributed significantly to impoverishment. A renowned health sector journalist, Subhadra Menon, asserted the need for effective communication and information to help consumers claim their right to quality healthcare services. Such communication could help mitigate the adverse impact of collusion in a sector tailor made for it as consumers do not make decisions in regard to their own consumption.
The need to critically examine and analyse the policy and regulatory environment in the health sector in a detailed manner to remedy collusion was stressed by several participants. Such examination would be an important element of the project agenda.