‘Essential medicines out of reach for most people’

"Because of the increasing cost of health care more number of people was going below the poverty line" said Ravi Uday Bhaskar, general secretary of All India Drugs Control Officers’ Confederation

July 01, 2012 09:07 am | Updated 09:07 am IST - VIJAYAWADA:

The National production of drugs and pharmaceuticals in India has crossed rupees one lakh crore but 50 to 65 per cent of the population have no regular access to essential medicines according to a WHO estimate, alleged All India Drugs Control Officers’ Confederation general secretary Ravi Uday Bhaskar in a letter to the Government of India.

Speaking on the behalf of Drug Control Officers of the Country, he wrote in the letter that access to essentials medicines was becoming a serious problem throughout the world especially in developing countries. Due to the new Government policies, it was likely that medicine prices would increase in the coming years, he opined and added that because of the increasing cost of health care more number of people was going below the poverty line.

He also wrote that all countries have a price controlling mechanism for medicines and the Government of India also set up a similar committee in 1974.

This committee brought over 347 medicines through Drugs Price Control Order (DPCO), but the number was reduced to 142 in 1987 and 74 in 1995 he added. Since the year 1979 the DPCO had put less control over the prices and allowed more profitability resulting in the present situation, he added.

The Drug Control officer pointed out to the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (USA) prescription programmes where a 30-day supply of medicines are supplied for four dollars and 90-day supply for 10 dollars. The medicines provided under this programme in the USA were cheaper than the prices of the same drugs in India.

The Government has promised to control prices of all medicines under National Essential Medicines List (NEML) in the Pharmaceutical policy 2012 but had failed to do so he wrote.

He urged the Government officials to take immediate steps to bring all 348 medicines included in the NEML 2011 to an affordable price and to rationally fix the cost of medicines between the factory price and MRP. Some of the medicines included in the list were Okacet-10mg, Fluka -150mg, Ransulide-100mg, Zebee-400mg, and Amlip-5mg etc.

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