Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Medicines for all - DPCO

Couple of years back I had written a post where I commented about thenon-availability of cheap but effective medicines in the general market. The drug is question at that time was Hydrochlorothiazide, which is the first choice drug for uncomplicated systemic hypertension.

Recently, quite a few medicines were brought under the Drug Price Control. This means that the government has fixed prices for quite a lot of drugs. This resulted in drugs becoming more affordable

Many of us had expected problems for some time. We did not face any problems in the beginning.

However, now we are faced with a major issue. Over the last 2 weeks, we’ve a shortage of commonly used medicines. The list my store clerk sent reads – Injection and Tablet Hyoscine (Buscopan), Tablets and Injection Frusemide, Asprin tablets, Normal saline nasal drops, Salbutamol Tablets, salbutamol Inhaler, Injection Benzyl Peniciline (Crystalline Penicilline)and Injection Haloperidol.

All the above are quite commonly used medications. And also quite cheap.

And the latter is the exact reason they are not easily available.

‘No margin, sir’, the supplier says.

However, the pharmaceutical companies have come out in droves against the order.

A side effect of this issue . . . comparatively expensive medicines are easily available in the market. We were surprised recently to see even quacks prescribe medicines such as Cefpodoxime.

Unfortunate . . . but true. How long will it take for the government and now the judiciary to realize that the pharmaceutical industry can make a mockery of science . . . and that too medical science.

I’m sure about what is the latest on this. One of my friends told me that the industry has gone to the court and the DPC list is stayed. However, my suppliers tell me that after DPC, their margins have come down a lot. There were also news reports about this few days back.

My take on the matter is that the healthcare community needs to take a very strong stand against this move of the pharmaceutical companies. 


  1. In the US, newer drugs under patent are often very expensive (as only the patent-holder is allowed to sell the new drug), but drugs that are out of patent (generics) tend to be very cheap. (Patent protection for new drugs in the US is something like 20 years, although that could have changed.) We don't have government price controls on retail drugs. I was just looking at the price of aspirin on You can buy 500 tablets of 325 mg aspirin for $7.99. That works out to under 2 cents a pill, which is very, very cheap for our standard of living. For comparison, a loaf of bread costs $2 or $3, a small can of beans might cost half a dollar, and a pound of inexpensive apples might cost $1.

    I know things are done differently in India, but in the US, prices on this sort of stuff is kept low by allowing anybody who wants to to produce a generic version of a drug.

    1. Here, the problem is with the suppliers/stockist/distributor. Nobody wants to do business of the cheap drugs as there is little profit margin compared to other costlier medicines.