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Maharashtra Government Caps Prices on HRCT Scanning and Convalescent Plasma for COVID Patients

Convalescent plasma has been pitched as a viable treatment for coronavirus

Maharashtra Government Caps Prices on HRCT Scanning and Convalescent Plasma for COVID Patients
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After several patients complained of being overcharged for tests as well as plasma, the Maharashtra Government on Thursday capped the prices of tests and vials of plasma. The cost of high-resolution CT (HRCT) scans for coronavirus patients has been fixed between ₹2,000 to 3,000 based on the type of machine used. It’s worth noting that the newly announced prices for HRCT scanning also includes PPE as well as disinfectants.

As far as plasma is concerned, each unit of plasma (200 ml) has seen a 25 per cent reduction in pricing and now costs ₹5,500. While overcharging has been seen across the board, some patients have also complained of plasma black marketing. However, the price capping will hopefully help bring these practices to a stop.

Also read - State Government To Look Into Testing Labs Overcharging For HRCT Scanning

“The almost 25 per cent cut in the rate of 200ml of plasma is good for patients. The capping exercise will introduce checks and balances and control blackmarketing,’’ said Dr Om Shrivastava who is an infectious diseases specialist and a member of the Maharashtra COVID-19 task force told Times of India

The CEO of the State Health Assurance Society, Dr Sudhakar Shinde said that HRCT tests would previously cost up to Rs 10,000 in some high-end hospitals. Shinde was also head of the committee set up to fix the prices of HRCT scanning in the state.

Convalescent plasma has been pitched as a viable treatment for some patients and has hence seen a surge in demand since its feasibility was made public after the pandemic hit. Plasma is extracted from a person who has generated COVID-19 antibodies. The procedure is known as plasmapheresis. The average cost of a 200 ml vial of convalescent plasma in Mumbai hospitals is currently between ₹7,000 to 7,500. 

Also Read - 17 Thane Hospitals Overcharged COVID-19 Patients By Up To Rs 1.82 Crore

Elaborating on the efficiency of CT scans to detect COVID-19, a member of the state’s COVID-19 task force, Dr Shashank Joshi said  - “RT-PCR only has a sensitivity of 70% to diagnose Covid-19, while antigen tests have 50% sensitivity. However, HRCT has over 80% sensitivity. It is a useful tool to understand the severity of the disease. The capping will make it more accessible for the common man.”

Also read - Malegaon To Witness Plasma Banks: Rajesh Tope

Although ICMR has maintained that the use of plasma did not affect mortality rates, several doctors have mentioned that it can work on patients who are deemed moderately ill.

State Minister of Public Health and Family Welfare, Rajesh Tope said that action will be taken against blood banks that are found to be overcharging patients. “With the capping of rates, plasma will be available to patients at a nominal rate. The government will take strict action like revoking licences of blood banks which do not implement the rate and are found to overcharge,” he said. 

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