Bindu Shajan Perappadan

"The customer is paying more than cost of the same drug offered by another company"

  • "Customers often unaware of cheaper option"
  • "It is time that the Government checks this"

    NEW DELHI: It's a list that no pharmaceutical company would ever make public. Nor would the chemist next door tell you about this money-spinning drug pricing scheme employed by the major players in business.

    A market study of drug pricing has indicated a wide variation in retail prices of different brands of the same medicine that contains a single ingredient and is not available in varying combinations of ingredients.

    What this effectively means is that the customer is paying much more than the cost of the same drug offered in the market by another reputed company.

    While bargaining and bulk buying can bring down the retail prices of these drugs marginally, most customers who are not aware of the availability of cheaper versions of the same drug by another company end up paying more for the same "medical effect".

    Available in the market are the same generic drugs of the same weight manufactured by two different reputed companies selling at hugely varying price difference in the absences of Government control.

    A pack of ten tablets of an anti-diabetic drug, Glimepiride (generic name), can be bought at Rs. 9.87 and Rs. 55.76; a drug to prevent post-menopausal osteoporosis, Risedronate (generic name), is available at Rs. 200.50 and Rs. 2,000; a drug given to cancer patients, Lotrozole (generic name), can be bought at Rs. 99 and Rs. 1,815; a drug used for schizophrenia treatment, Risperidone (generic name), is available at Rs. 16.94 and Rs. 270; a drug used to treat high levels of Calcium in some cancer patients, Zoledronic (generic name), is available at Rs. 2,800 and Rs. 12,500 a vial.

    "We have brought out a list of 14 such drugs that have shown huge price variations. Customers often unaware of the cheaper option pay huge amounts for drugs," said drug expert and editor of the Monthly Index of Medical Specialities C.M. Gulati.