Blood banks in Gujarat sold blood to pharma companies for crores, says CAG report

The auditor describes a grim picture of Gujarat’s blood banks, which overcharge HIV patients and follow few rules.
Blood banks in Gujarat sold blood to pharma companies for crores, says CAG report

Photo Credit: AFP
Profit can be thicker than blood, at least in Gujarat. A Comptroller and Auditor General reportreveals a grim picture of state-governed blood banks in Gujarat, which sold blood components for profit, which overcharged HIV patients, and where government oversight was apparently so relaxed that it led to the loss of at least one life.

The CAG report on the general and social sector was tabled in the Gujarat legislative assembly in March during the monsoon session. It says that between 2011 and 2014, 10 blood banks sold 52,000 litres of “fresh frozen plasma” for Rs 6.17 crore in contravention of the national rules. The National Blood Policy clearly prohibits sale of blood in the country, yet these blood banks “traded in blood components”, vending plasma to three pharmaceutical companies for fractionation, a process whereby blood is separated into its component parts.

This wasn’t the only breach of the national policy. Violating rules that forbid accepting payment for blood or blood components for thalassaemia and haemophilia patients who need repeated life-saving blood transfusions, three “charitable” blood banks charged such patients exorbitant service charges totalling Rs 19.61 lakhs.

Furthermore, of the 32 blood banks CAG examined, seven overcharged HIV patients, even though the National Aids Control Organisation instructs not to do so. Together, these banks collected “excess… service charge of Rs 4.82 crore for 3.14 lakh units of blood or blood components” from HIV patients during 2011-’14.