Maha FDA probe finds imported catheters sold at 500% mark-up

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Barely a month after the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) exposed hospitals for recycling guidewire catheters and balloon catheters meant for single use during angioplasty, it has unearthed massive profiteering—in some cases, to the extent of 500% of the import price—in the sale of these medical devices.

“Our over-two-month investigation spanning 12 hospitals across Maharashtra, as well as visits to distributors and manufacturers in Delhi and Chennai, reveal that patients end up paying 70% to 84% more than the landing cost of, say, a balloon catheter,” said outgoing FDA commissioner Dr Harshdeep Kamble. For instance, the probe revealed that an imported balloon catheter sold to a patient at Rs 22,000 earns a profit of Rs 12,505 (more than 50% of the cost) for a hospital and a distributor.

The report was sent to the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) on Wednesday.

The investigations found that though the hospital-distributor-importer nexus raked in huge profits, most hospitals still managed to sell catheters to patients at rates lower than maximum retail price, proving once again the exorbitant retail mark-up.

The catheters checked for FDA’s investigation were mostly imported; importers marked up the price and sold to distributors who then added their own margin and sold to hospitals, which, in turn, sold to patients (see graphic).

“MRP of a balloon catheter was found in the range of 413% to 599% and in one case, it was found to be 1080% of the landed cost to the importer,” said FDA’s intelligence branch head Madhuri Pawar.

Like with stents, the findings reveal that hospitals are the biggest profit-making centres in the supply chain. “The profit earned by the hospital ranges from Rs 1,110 to Rs 15,760 for a balloon catheter. In the case of a guiding catheter, it was between Rs 428 and Rs 4,100,” said Pawar.

A press release sent by the FDA’s intelligence branch, which started the inquiry almost two months back, said the number of angioplasties performed in India is increasing every year. “In 2015, 3.75 lakh angioplasty procedures were performed and 4.75 lakh stents were used in the country,” the release said, adding that one or two catheters are used per procedure. Apart from a stent, angioplasty also involves use of other drug-notified devices such as balloon catheters, guiding catheters, guide wires.

The FDA note said that the NPPA should bring control over prices of balloon catheters and guiding catheters by declaring a fixed profit margin for the manufacturer and importer as well as distributors and hospitals.

“The catheters are already included in the drug category. They should now be included in the National List of Essential Medicines so that there can be a cap on their prices,” added Dr Kamble.

Incidentally, Maharashtra FDA had done a similar investigation on overcharging for stents, which paved the way for NPPA to cap their prices in February this year.”The NPPA capped prices of stents in February to around Rs 30,000 to check profiteering in the supply chain. NPPA should now do something similar for catheters as well,” said Dr Kamble.

The hospitals where FDA carried out the investigations include Fortis Hospital in Mulund, Hiranandani Hospital in Vashi, Jupiter Hospital in Thane, Kamal Nayan Bajaj Hospital in Aurangabad, Sahyadri Hospital in Pune, Wockhardt Hospital in Nagpur, Platinum Hospital in Mulund, BSES Hospital in Andheri, Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital in Powai, Jaslok Hospital on Peddar Road, Asian Heart Institute in Bandra and Bombay Hospital in New Marine Lines.

GST exemption withdrawn for hospital equipment

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The GST Council has decided to withdraw the exemption from countervailing duty (CVD), equal to excise duty, which is currently available to certain hospital equipment and 100% Export Oriented Units (EOUs), on import of all goods. This will make them liable to pay Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) once the new regime kicks in from the scheduled date on July 1.

Import of equipment by government hospitals and those run by societies will be subject to full rate of IGST, as existing concessional rate of 6% CVD will not be available. This will impact hospital equipment and their parts and accessories, although basic customs duty exemption will be available, said tax lawyer R S Sharma.

While the GST Council has restricted the exemption from IGST to only specified category of importers, such as units in special economic zones (SEZs) and developers of these zones, the benefit has not been extended to EOUs.

“EOUs will henceforth will be liable to pay IGST on imports and can avail credit of IGST paid, which can be used by them for local supply of goods manufactured by them. They will also be entitled for a refund of IGST in case of excess accumulation of credit due to export,” said Sharma.

The EOUs are, however, still hopeful of getting the benefits that are currently available to them.

“Discussion on IGST for export promotion schemes is going on. EOUs are also an export promotion scheme. So we expect that it may also be exempted from IGST. If it is not the case then duty has to be paid and refund has to be sought after exports, which will lead to increase in the cost of working capital, thereby leading to an increase in the cost of product. This will make Indian products less competitive in the international markets,” said Rahul Gupta, chairman, Export Promotion Council for EOUs & SEZs.

Similarly, import of all consumer goods in packaged form with specified MRP, which are meant for trading, are at present exempt from 4% special additional duty, which is levied in lieu of VAT. It will now be subject to tax at full rate of IGST on imports.

GST to benefit common man: PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday reviewed the status of GST, which is to be implemented from July 1, and said the new regime will benefit the common man.

During the two-hour meeting, Modi reviewed the IT and HR preparedness, query handling mechanism, and monitoring. “The Prime Minister was informed that GST systems such as IT infrastructure, training of officials, integration with banks, and enrolment of existing taxpayers will be in readiness well in time for the July 1 implementation date. Information security systems were discussed in detail,” an official statement said.

Modi also directed that maximum attention should be paid to cyber-security in IT systems concerned with GST.

Fee row: PG medical candidates write to PM


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The candidates who have cleared NEET examination for PG medical seats but have been denied admissions by the colleges have have written to Prime Minster Narendra Modi to take necessary action. They resorted to this step as the assurances made by ministers and repeated representations to Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi failed to yield results.

The candidates who got seats under government quota through Centralised Admission Committee (Centac) including N. Sumitha (General Surgery), S. Rehana (Radio Diagnosis), K. Thambiprabagarane (Ophthalmology), Siva Sankar. P. (Ophthalmology) have been denied admissions.

Pondicherry State Students and Parents Welfare Association has alleged in the letter that the majority of the 114 candidates who were allotted seats in three self-financed institutions and four deemed universities have not joined. “Only those students who have paid ₹40 lakh, agreed to stay in hostel or signed a bond to work for five years after the course have been admitted in the colleges,” said a candidate.

A self-financed institution has denied admission to a candidate, who had approached the Madras High Court seeking justice, stating that they have not received demand draft (DD) despite the candidate submitting the DD at Centac.

Candidates who had remitted the fees on time were not allowed to join the institutions on the pretext that they had delayed payment of the additional amount after the Fee Committee hiked the fee structure from ₹3 lakh to ₹5.5 lakh.

The candidates have appealed to the Prime Minister to take necessary action and ensure the students join the courses before June 7 as it is the last date of submitting the list of candidates to the Medical Council of India.

Illegal ‘PG degrees’ plague emergency medicine

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You might shell out big bucks when wheeled into the emergency ward of a large private hospital, but do you also get the best trained doctors in emergency medicine?

Most of these hospital emergency departments are staffed with MBBS graduates lured into illegal courses that claim to be giving a master’s in emergency medicine (MEM). From the number of patients they get to see, to the quality of faculty who train them, a number of questions have been raised. The Medical Council of India (MCI) has notified all such courses as illegal and hence not to be registered as additional qualification.

The MCI and the National Board of Examination (NBE) have strict criteria regarding how large a patient load an emergency department needs to start postgraduate specialisation in the discipline, and a highly competitive entrance exam to get a seat. Preying on the insecurity of those unable to clear such exams are a plethora of supposed MEM programmes offered by various hospitals that masquerade as postgraduate degree courses.

The two main MEM programmes offered include one by the Society of Emergency Medicine of India (SEMI), and the other by various corporate hospitals in conjunction with George Washington University (GWU) in the US. SEMI president Dr T S Srinath Kumar says they don’t claim to give a postgraduate degree.

“Our MEM is just a certificate given by SEMI. It is the MEM given by GWU that the MCI declared illegal, not ours,” he said. While he claims that SEMI-MEMs will be phased out by 2020, they started the course in 15 more hospitals last year and six more this year. Currently, about 86 centres are churning out about 350 MEMs each year. There are 79 seats for MD in emergency medicine in 28 medical colleges, and 248 DNB (Diplomate of National Board) seats for it in 50 institutions .

In the case of the MEM offered through a tie-up with GWU, the numbers have gone up from three centres to 11, with as many as 6-10 students in each centre – about 100 MEMs a year. About 74 doctors from eight centres got a GWU-MEM in 2016. Students are being charged Rs 4 lakh to 6 lakh per year as fees. Though they promote it as a postgraduate master’s programme of an American university on their website, the fine print says that the ‘degree’ is not recognised in the US.

The MCI does not allow parallel courses in colleges with MD (postgraduate course) seats to prevent students’ training from getting diluted. However, many hospitals and medical colleges running DNB courses are also running MEM courses. For instance, Peerless Hospital in Kolkata has four DNB seats, for which the requisite patient load is 6,000-10,000 annually (16-27 patients per day. It is also running the GWU-MEM with about 12 seats. So the faculty and the patient load meant to teach the 12 (4×3) DNB students is being used to teach an additional 36 MEM students since it is a three-year course. This severely limits the quality of the DNB training. This is happening in several institutions where MEM courses are being run along with DNB, though the NBE is categorical that it “does not allow concurrent administration of any programme with DNB Emergency Medicine”.

In many of the institutions running both DNB and MEM, faculty qualification too is an issue. Unlike the MCI, inspection reports of hospitals given DNB seats are not in the public domain. Hence, one does not know if the faculty counted during inspection and those shown on the hospital website are the same.

On hospital websites, most of the ‘faculty’ in the emergency departments have qualifications like MEM or even diploma in emergency medicine, which are not qualifications recognised by the MCI, the medical regulator of the country. The NBE spokesperson told: “MEM qualification has never been accepted as an eligible qualification for being DNB Emergency Medicine faculty. There is no approved faculty in any NBE accredited department with MEM qualification.”

However, in MIMS, Kozhikode, which has 8 DNB seats for emergency medicine, Dr PP Venugopalan is shown as faculty for both DNB and GWU-MEM, which has 10 seats. Barring him, no other emergency department faculty has any qualification other than MEM going by the hospital website. Dr Venugopalan also does not accept that GWU-MEM is illegal. “We have filed for reversal in the MCI and we have the course running in five hospitals of our group,” said Dr Venugopalan . However, MCI president Dr Jayshree Mehta told that the MCI had alerted the public at large not to enrol themselves in such courses and declared these courses “unrecognised and unauthorised” and therefore “not legal”.

SC relief for docs who serve in rural areas


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The Supreme Court said on Wednesday that a doctor who forgoes urban comforts to serve in rural areas could not be denied the consequent weightage for admission to PG courses in government medical colleges of any state just because he obtained the MBBS degree from another state.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and Deepak Gupta set aside an order of the Allahabad high court, that granted preference in admission for PG courses to those in-service doctors who rendered rural service in UP after graduating from a medical college of the state.

The bench said: “Once graduate doctors, whether they cleared their MBBS or BDS examination from within UP or from any other part of the country, are selected and join the medical health service in UP, they form part of one service – Provincial Medical Health Services. Thereafter, when these doctors are posted to remote or difficult areas, they are posted as doctors of PMHS and not on basis of the state from where they did their graduation.”

With this ruling, an MBBS passout from any state can join rural health services in another state and still be able to avail of the weightage, an additional 10% of marks per year of rural service up to a maximum of 30%, for admission to PG courses in the state where he rendered rural services.

The SC also set aside another direction of the Allahabad HC which had annulled the institutional quota of up to 50% of seats in PG medical courses of Aligarh Muslim University and Banaras Hindu University and directed filling up of these seats from among candidates who have passed MBBS from institutions, universities and colleges in UP.

SC restores 50% institutional quota in PG medical admissions

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday restored 50% institutional preference in admission to PG medical courses. 

A Vacation Bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan, which had reserved its verdict on Tuesday, set aside the Allahabad High Court’s May 29 order quashing the 50% institutional quota in admission to PG medical courses.

After this order, Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and government-run medical colleges in Uttar Pradesh can go ahead with counselling for admission to PG medical courses and fill up seats by June 12, the top court said.

Acting on a PIL, the high court had on May 29 allowed filling up the 50 per cent institutional quota seats in PG medical courses at BHU and AMU for students from any medical college based on their NEET ranking.

The top court’s order came on petitions filed by BHU and AMU, which had challenged the high court’s order contending it went against an earlier verdict of the top court as also Medical Council of India regulations that permitted them to fill 50% seats from their own institution. MCI had supported BHU and AMU, saying the high court misinterpreted the regulations.

On behalf of BHU, Additional Solicitor-General Maninder Singh had sought immediate stay on the high court’s order.

“The entire apple cart cannot be reversed by re-opening those 50 per cent seats for students selected through the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET),” Singh had said.

Singh had cited the top court’s verdict in the Saurabh Chaudhary case that laid down guidelines for PG medical admission and emphasised that only half the seats were to be filled through all-India quota. If the institutional preference for 50 per cent seats were done away with, what would happen to other premier institutes like the AIIMS and the PGI, Chandigarh, he added.

Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, representing AMU, had demanded stay on the HC verdict, saying some students had already been admitted by the university under the 50% quota. Out of 195 seats for PG medical courses in AMU, admissions against 149 were over and everything could not be reversed, he said.

Doctors cry for ‘clerical-error’ jail shield

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Doctors nationwide today asked the Centre to protect them against violence from patients’ relatives and modify multiple laws, including one they said threatens doctors with jail for “clerical errors” and another that might close down the smaller clinics.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA), a private body of doctors, has organised what it describes as the country’s largest congregation of medics here to articulate a “memorandum of demands” that association officials say seeks to address issues detrimental to doctors and patients.

A senior IMA official said that 53,767 doctors had signed a petition sent to the Union health ministry demanding a law or ordinance to curb violence against doctors and independent modifications to the Clinical Establishments Act of 2010 and the law that prohibits foetal sex determination.

The memorandum also urges the government to abandon a proposal to replace the Medical Council of India, an elected body, with a medical regulatory panel of nominated members.

“Doctors in India are unhappy – the government needs to take up each of these major issues,” IMA national president Krishan Kumar Aggarwal told PG Times.

“We’ve explained these concerns to senior health ministry officials; we now want the government to act quickly.”

Praveen Togadia, a cancer surgeon and international president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, was at the meeting and joined the calls for changes to the Clinical Establishments Act.

Although states such as Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have adopted the act, health activists say none of them has implemented its rules in full.

Togadia said: “The Clinical Establishment Act should be amended because in its present form, it will only hurt people.”

The act’s rules require nursing homes and hospitals to maintain what some IMA members say are “unrealistic standards”, including specific ratios of beds, doctors, paramedical staff and floor area.

Doctors fear that the smaller nursing homes and clinics might be forced to shut for their inability to maintain the required ratios.

“Most patients still seek treatment from small clinics. If they shut down, the patients will be forced to turn to corporate hospitals, which lack the capacity to meet the demand,” Togadia said.

He cited an example of how a corporate hospital might charge Rs 100,000 for a treatment service available at a smaller private clinic for Rs 10,000.

Sunil Kumar, a medical practitioner from Patna who was at the meeting, said the implementation of the Clinical Establishments Act would cause “nearly half of all clinics in rural Bihar” to shut down.

At least three private hospitals in Delhi kept their outpatient departments shut till 2pm today in “solidarity” with the IMA campaign, a senior doctor at one of these hospitals said.

“The most important thing that is uniting us is the violence against doctors. There is poor understanding of disease among most patients and their families, but the patients’ expectations are always high,” the doctor said.

The IMA estimates that three in four doctors in the country have during their career experienced violence from patients or their relatives.

Sex test row

The IMA is also demanding changes to the law that bans foetal sex determination and requires doctors to maintain detailed records of the ultrasound scans performed on every pregnant woman. The association says that doctors should not be punished for “clerical errors”, referring to lapses in record-keeping.

But this demand has angered health activists and women’s organisations, who view it as an “insidious attempt” to protect wrongdoing by doctors who reveal foetal sex for a price.

“The IMA has shrewdly combined this demand with its other demand of protecting doctors from violence,” said Sabu George, an activist tracking female foeticide for three decades.

“No one supports violence against doctors, but they are also trying to dilute the provisions in the sex determination law that will allow doctors to violate the law and escape scrutiny.”

George added: “The crime of revealing foetal sex and contributing to abortions of female foetuses cannot be dismissed as a clerical error.”

Doctors’ overwhelming participation in IMA’s Dilli Chalo movement

Doctors’ overwhelming participation in IMA's Dilli Chalo movement

In what was perhaps the largest peaceful Satyagraha against the many issues confronting the medical fraternity in the country, doctors, MBBS students, and others associated with the profession participated in huge numbers in the Dilli Chalo movement held today.

The movement was a fitting conclusion to the intensive month-long campaign by IMA aimed at raising awareness on and bringing to light the issues faced by the medical profession. IMA is a unified voice and the collective consciousness of the medical profession in the country.

The Protest March started at 8:00 AM from Rajghat and reached the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium by 11:00 AM. Earlier, the office bearers paid homage to the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi at 6.30 AM.

Over 70,000 doctors from all over India participated in the event including representatives of National Medical Associations such as Federation of Obstetrics & Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI), Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP), Association of Physicians of India (API) and the Cardiological Society of India (CSI) amongst others. Those not present in person joined the movement digitally over a live webcast.

Speaking at the deliberations, Dr K K Aggarwal, National President Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Dr RN Tandon – Honorary Secretary General IMA in a joint statement, said, “This is one of the toughest times for the medical fraternity. This Satyagraha comes after the realization that enough is enough, and that repeated pleas and appeals by the medical fraternity have materialized into nothing but reassurances. The agitation among doctors has been evident for a long time now. New draconian acts imposing penal provisions on clerical errors and violations of clauses not linked to medical treatment under the PC PNDT Act and West Bengal Clinical Establishment Act are not in the interest of the profession and therefore, the society at large. The need of the hour is collective action and decision which would do justice to this profession.”

The last few months have seen several other initiatives by the IMA on this front such as STOP NMC Sathyagraha, two National Protest Days against violence on doctors, NO to NEXT strike in medical colleges, and the National Black Day against West Bengal Clinical Establishments Act. Other than this, 3 action committee meetings and 2 meetings of Federation of Medical Associations of India were also conducted.

Adding further, Dr Marthanda Pillai, Past President, IMA and Dr Ravi Wankhedkar, President Elect, IMA, in a joint statement, said, “It is imperative for both doctors and patients to understand that their relationship is a sacred one and that the dignity of the profession needs to be upheld. It won’t be wrong to say that justice has been denied to doctors even within the framework of the constitution of India. This movement should not be misconstrued as a strike or an agitation of any kind. Its sole aim is to serve as a wake-up call to the government and take urgent action.”

Addressing the huge gathering of medical professionals, Dr Vinay Aggarwal (Past President IMA) and Dr R V Asokan, Chairman, Action Committee, added, “This protest is an indication that medical professionals will no longer take any form of injustice. People are indulging in violence against doctors, which is further being condoned by governments and other institutions. Prescription rights of doctors are being trampled upon, which can have disastrous consequences for patients. There is absolutely no end to the injustice being heaped upon the medical fraternity and this noble profession. This movement should be enough to urge the government to take urgent action failing which the agitation is only bound to increase.”

The Dilli Chalo movement aimed to address the following demands by the medical fraternity.

* Criminal prosecution of medical negligence and clerical errors to be an exception
* Stringent central act against violence on doctors
* Capping the compensation in Consumer Protection Act (CPA) on doctors
* Professional autonomy in treatment and prescriptions
* Amendments in PC PNDT, Central Clinical Establishment Act (CEA), West Bengal CEA Act
* No unscientific mixing of systems of medicine
* Empower MBBS graduates
* One drug – One company – One price
* Implement inter-ministerial committee recommendations in six weeks
* Single window accountability
* Single window registration of doctors and medical establishments
* No to NMC: Amend Indian Medical Council (IMC) Act to maintain professional autonomy
* Uniform final MBBS exam instead of ‘NEXT’
* Uniform service conditions for service doctors & faculty
* Same work – Same pay – Pay parity – No to adhocism
* Fair conduction of NEET exam
* IMA member in every government health committee
* Central anti-quackery law
* Reimbursement of emergency services provided by private sector
* 25000 family medicine PG seats
* Aided hospitals and retainer ship in general practice
* Health budget of 5% of GDP for universal health coverage

BHU, AMU stand together against PG med quota order

BHU, AMU stand together against med quota order

Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and Aligarh Muslim Univesrity (AMU) will stand together on the same side in the Supreme Court on Tuesday to challenge an Allahabad High Court order doing away with 50% institutional preference in admission to PG medical seats.

BHU and AMU, both central universities, are relying on the Supreme Court’s 2003 judgement in the Saurabh Chaudri case laying down the guidelines for filling up of PG medical college seats in government colleges. The SC had held that 50% of the seats would be reserved for all-India quota to be filled through a common entrance test. The government medical colleges could give preference to candidates from their own institution to fill the balance 50% seats in post-graduation courses.

BHU’s petition was mentioned for urgent hearing by additional solicitor general Maninder Singh, who informed Justice Deepak Gupta that BHU being a central university was entitled to fill 50% seats in post-graduation courses with students who had passed MBBS from the university itself as per the 2003 SC judgement. The SC posted the petition of BHU for hearing along with that filed by AMU and others on Tuesday.

On a PIL, without making the BHU or AMU a party, the HC had opened the 50% institutional quota seats in PG medical courses in these two central universities for students from any medical college in UP based on their ranking in National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET).

“The implication of the HC order is that the admissions to the MD, MS and MDS courses in BHU as well as AMU, which has already been finalised and completed for the year 2017, has been rendered void. The HC did not offer any opportunity to the petitioner university to establish/ justify the validity of 50% quota available to the university under the institutional category,” the BHU said and sought an interim stay of the HC order.

The prospectus for admission to PG medical seats in BHU was published in January 2017. It had clearly mentioned that the BHU has 134 PG seats for MD/MS and 50% of which (67 seats) are to be filled through all-India quota and balance 50% for internal students of IMS-BHU, who have passed MBBS from the institute and have completed internship by March 31.

CM flays L-G Bedi’s directive to officials on PG admissions

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Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy today criticised Lt Governor Kiran Bedi for her directions to officials involved in the ongoing counselling process for post-graduate medical courses and accused her of adopting a “misleading approach” on the matter.

Making a statement in the Union territory assembly, he alleged Bedi was criticising ministers and officials on social media and said she should stop making “derogatory remarks”.

Health Minister Malladi Krishna Rao, who also spoke on the PG admission issue, alleged the LG was enacting “a drama to malign the government … She does not have competence to hold the gubernatorial post any longer”.

Bedi had on May 30 conducted a surprise inspection of the counselling process by the Centralised Admission Committee (CENTAC) here and directed officials to ensure 50 per cent of seats available under government quota were filled and not given to private colleges or to all-India quota.

Narayanasamy termed as “incorrect” the statement of Bedi that the UT government had given away its quota in PG medical seats to private colleges.

“It is totally incorrect and misleading on the part of the Lt Governor to rush to CENTAC (office) on May 30 and order the Convenor to issue letters offering seats to some students. She had levelled an allegation that government quota seats had been given away to management quota. This is not correct,” he said.

He asserted that it was due to his government’s “sustained efforts” that the students of the Union territory for the first time got the state quota of 50 per cent of the 318 PG seats available in the colleges in Puducherry.

Maintaining that at no stage the government was careless on the issue, he said it had directed private medical colleges to admit the students sponsored by CENTAC and also accept fees fixed by the Fee committee for the government quota seats.

The chief minister accused the LG of frequently making comments against ministers of Puducherry and also officials through her WhatsApp or twitter.

“If she has any complaints on the issue she should bring them to my notice… Without any evidence she has no right to level allegations,” he said.

Bedi should stop making such “derogatory comments and criticisms,” Narayanasamy said.

Rao said the government does not want the students face hardship in getting seats under government quota in the PG medical courses.

He said it was his responsibility to ensure admission of students selected by CENTAC under the state quota to pursue PG courses in private colleges.

“Students’ interest is of paramount importance for us,” he added.

Bedi and the Congress government are locked in a cold war over various issues since she assumed the post in May last year.

In January this year, Congress and DMK MLAs demanded that the Centre recall Bedi, a BJP leader and former IPS officer, for her alleged “dictatorial” style of functioning, bypassing the elected legislature.

PG medical candidates wait for final word on their admission

As MLAs debate the problems in Centralised Admission Committee (Centac) admission process, many candidates selected for postgraduate medical and dental courses under the government quota are still waiting to join the courses.

A candidate, on condition of anonymity, said that although she had obtained a PG seat through merit and remitted fees up to ₹33 lakh, the deemed university was not ready to take her joining letter. “Several candidates are unable to join the deemed universities until they pay ₹40 lakh,” said the candidate.

Of the seven medical institutions in Puducherry, four are deemed universities.

A parent added that there was no clear information as to how many students selected through Centac for PG medical and dental courses to the self-financing and deemed universities had joined the institutions.

A senior official in Centac said that 10 candidates selected Vinayaka Missions Medical College and Hospital, four Sri Lakshmi Narayana Institute of Medical Science, 25 Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute and 13 Arupadai Veedu Medical College and Hospital.

The number of candidates who opted for self-financing medical colleges, including Sri Manakular Vinayagar Medical College and Hospital, Sri Venkateswaraa Medical College Hospital and Research Centre, and PIMS, is 31, 9 and 22 respectively. The candidates said that they were waiting to meet the Lieutenant Governor on Saturday.