Friday, September 9, 2011

Essential Drugs

Recently, there has been reports of a major study which brought out the fact that cheaper effective drugs are not being used to combat non-communicable diseases in the country.
Although I did not read about this study in 'The Lancet', I’m reminded of the umpteen number of patients that I see with very expensive medicines given for diabetes and hypertension. Couple of hours back, one of the patients’ bystander, BBM whom I discharged today came to me very discretely and wanted to know if the patient needs to continue the drugs which she is taking from elsewhere. I was a bit taken aback as during admission we had asked the patient about previous treatment being taken. The relatives had replied in the negative.
She was admitted with septicemia and urinary tract infection. The treatment has been quite expensive for the family.
Now, here was a relative of the patient whom I had not seen before standing in front of me saying that she had diabetes and hypertension and she was on quite a lot of treatment. She had 3 different medicines for her hypertension, 3 other medicines for her diabetes, one drug for lowering cholesterol, one for lowering triglycerides, couple of vitamin tablets and two drug to prevent platelet aggregation. The total cost of her medicines for one day was about 60 rupees. It was only 3 months since she has started on the treatment and the family was already feeling the pinch.
If you thought that she must have been a very obese lady looking very sick, you are mistaken. She was quite fit and when she got discharged she looked quite fine. Her blood pressure was normal throughout admission and her random blood sugar was a bit on the higher side. We were planning to do a FBS/PPBS sometime during admission which we missed out.  
Well, I did not know what to say to this man. First of all, this family had not mentioned anything about her medical problems during admission and now they want me to take a decision on whether she should continue on her present medicines, almost half which I've no idea about.
BBM was already discharged. Her blood pressures were normal. I’ve asked the family to bring her in after about a week where I would be checking her FBS/PPBS and other parameters. I hope that I would be able to start bit more simple medicines for her when she comes back next week and enable to make her treatment more affordable to the family.

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