You can question your doctor about the medicines

Safety first: Every consumer has the right to safe medication.

Safety first: Every consumer has the right to safe medication.  

Afshan Yasmeen

There are universally acknowledged rights with regard to drugs

Bangalore: How many of us bother to ask the doctor what he has scribbled on the prescription slip or what are the chances of getting cured with the prescribed medicine?

Chances are most of us would baulk at asking doctors hard questions for fear of incurring their wrath.

With growing concerns over the quality of healthcare services provided by the private and public sectors and the visible symptoms of deterioration, the patient has every right to know these details. It is the duty of the doctor to provide this information to his patient, says Drugs Controller of Karnataka B.R. Jagashetty.

“It is very essential to know what you have been prescribed and whether the pharmacist has got the prescription right. This is a must to avoid complications for the patient, pharmacist and doctor,” he asserts.

Human rights

There are several consumer rights in the use of medicines, which are universally acknowledged, ranging from basic needs of healthcare to redressal issues; they are essential elements of human rights.

These include Right to basic healthcare, Right to information of medicines, Right to choose, Right to safety, Right to redress, Right to be heard and Right to healthy and sustainable environment.

According to the Director of Consumer Rights, Education and Awareness Trust (CREAT) Y.G. Muralidharan, quality healthcare is a basic need essential for life. “It is your basic right as an individual to have equitable access to medical care and medicine for health and well being. Therefore, it is the fundamental responsibility of the government to ensure that people have equitable access to basic medical needs,” he says.

Corroborating Dr. Jagashetty’s views on consumer information about the drugs prescribed by his doctor, Mr. Muralidharan says: “Consumers have the right to be well informed about the medicines they are taking. Healthcare professionals and the labels on medicine products must inform consumers what kind of medicines they are taking, what are the side-effects, how to take their medicines, how frequent to take it and the precautionary health warnings. Consumer safety is very essential.”

The consumer’s right to choose a safe and healthy product of good quality over an unsafe or defective product is another important factor.

“By doing so, consumers can also influence healthy practices to be adopted by the market. It is also important for consumers to have a variety of healthy choices and in medicines, consumers have every right to choose and request for generic versions of their medicines from healthcare providers. Every consumer has the right to safe medication. Be it a prescribed drug or a health supplement, it must not harm the consumer in any way,” he says.

Do all pharmacists and drug manufacturing companies comply with the norms with regard to pricing and sale of substandard drugs? “Though it is difficult to regulate such issues without the cooperation of the affected persons, we are referring several cases to the National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority and Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation,” Dr. Jagashetty says.

When people buy medicines, they should compulsorily look for the batch number and date of expiry. They should never buy medicine without a bill.

“With Parliament recently having approved a proposal to increase the penalty and punishment for persons involved in sale of spurious drugs, our hands have been strengthened. A Bill in this regard will ensure life imprisonment and Rs. 10 lakh penalty on the violator,” Dr. Jagashetty adds.

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