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differential pricing is not helping the common man

How do you normally feel when you buy a certain thing for an X amount of price and your friend buys the same thing for a price much lesser than you? Cheated, right! Now imagine the same thing happening in medicine prices across India, where certain same medicines are being sold under different brands with a considerable difference in their prices.

For E.g. Risperidone, a drug used for the treatment of Schizophrenia is being marketed by both Johnson & Johnson and Torrent Pharma, however it is being sold with a huge difference, where the later is selling 10 tablets for a price of 17 rupees, and Johnson & Johnson is selling the same medicine for a price 270 rupees! To give another example of this blatant price discrimination in drug prices, 4mg of Zoledronic acid - a drug used to treat osteoporosis in menopausal women is sold by Cipla for 2,800 rupees for 4mg, whereas Novartis sells the same quantity of the drug for 13,900 rupees, which is a whooping 11,100 rupees price difference for the same medicine!

This discrimination in pricing of the drugs is due to many such drugs not being under the price control mechanism of the government, which allows the company’s marketing them to quote any base price and then increase the price by 10% annually! With drugs not being covered under the price control mechanism the government has no say in determination of the price. And with prices being increased 10% every year, it spells disaster for the common man.

Makers of such drugs justify the exorbitant price tags by terming the medicines as ‘innovation drugs’, which means that companies charge the amount to make up for the time and money spent by them, right from the researching to manufacturing process. Countering this healthcare experts are pointing out that this differential pricing of drugs is leading to doctors prescribing expensive brands of medicines, based on incentives that they are receiving from the manufactures. Similarly even Chemists have been promoting costlier brands to patients to earn a better margin of profits! 

While this is undoubtedly being perceived as a manufacturer-doctor-chemist nexus where the common man is suffering unknowingly, as the availability of lesser priced drugs is not being advertised by chemists or doctors in some cases!

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