How would you feel if you went shopping for socks and the salesman sold you not only socks but shoes and shirt with it? Cheated, disappointed and angry right! Imagine the same scenario happening when it comes to your basic medicines.
What’s happening is that, the doctor’s these days are prescribing various fixed combination drugs (FDC) which cost considerably more than a basic drug, which would have had provided the same treatment effect to the patient! For e.g. Sumoflam, a combination drug consisting of paracetamol, nimesulide and serratiopeptidase which costs Rs 53 per 10 tablets is being prescribed for fever and Pain, when a simple paracetamol costing Rs 10 per 10 tablets, would have sufficed and given the same results as Sumoflam.
With health care experts pointing out that most combinations have no medical logic whatsoever, it clearly seems like an attempt by the drug makers to exhort money from patients.What’s even more shocking about this whole nefarious affair is that certain FDCs also have side effects on vital organs, making it not only a costly but an unhealthy drug choice. This issue has bought to fore the desperate need for an unbiased flow of information to be provided to the doctors (private practitioners) about drugs, as their only source of information right now are the drug making companies themselves!
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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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