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Priyanka Parab , 30. March 2010, 16:40

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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must have medicines in your medicinal cabinetThe Khan’s had returned home at midnight, from a 7 day trip to a neighboring state, where they had indulged in all kinds of adventure sports ranging from bungee jumping to scuba diving! No wonder the Khan’s were a bunch of sore shoulders and stiff joints, but what they hadn’t bargained for was their youngest son falling sick upon reaching home.

As it was midnight, the Khan’s could not go to a doctor and since it was just a mild fever they decided to not go to the hospital, but on checking their medicine cabinet, Mrs. Khan found that they were out of crocin, the popular drug used to treat mild fevers and flu’s. The helpless Khan’s spent a sleepless night, keeping a watch on their son’s increasing fever… this could well have been avoided had the khan’s known about some must-have medicines for their cabinet!

We all buy strips and strips of tablets, bottles of syrups and end up storing them in our medicine cabinet, where they lie till their expiration date runs out! While we buy all kinds of medicines for our cough’s, cold’s, fever’s and flu’s, we never know the right medicine to buy; we end up buying all kinds of medicines and in the process miss out on the most needed medicines, as seen in the case of the Khan’s.

All of this can be handled in a better and faster way, if we just had a list of some of the must-have medicines in our medicinal cabinet, while adults are advised to keep Gelusil - acidity, Domstol - nausea and vomiting,  ORS (Oral rehydration salts) – Dehydration, Allegra - various allergies and Silverex – Mild burns, for their  medical conditions. Similarly parents of children are advised to keep Benadryl - Cough, Crocin, Paracetamol- Mild fevers and Otrivin – Nasal drops to clear congestion in their medicinal cabinets as medicines to treat commonly occurring conditions in their children.

While the above mentioned medicines are over the counter medicines, it would be advisable to consult the doctor before administering them to yourself or your children. Also please do remember to never self- medicate and always to check with the doctor before hand.

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