The Bold Voice of J&K

With stakes high, those in trade could do anything to defeat fair pricing of drugs

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Untitled By Daya Sagar
The only one drug shop said to have been open in Jammu Medical College Premises under the Jan Aushadi Store Programme (included in the list of 11 such shops in J&K ) is nowhere visible, as on date. In simple terms this shop was supposed to supply allopathic drugs marked with a fair MRP instead of inflated unfair MRPs as high as even five to six times being marked under some brand names. The Jan Aushadi Store programme was started in 2008 and as per information available there may not be even 300 such total stores in whole of the country. Governments have miserably failed to even enforce prescription writing by chemical name for a large number (may be 348 in NLED 2011) of so commonly used allopathic drugs that are otherwise not covered by any individual patent rights, why, people must ask the government.
These Jan Aushadi Stores are also supposed to supply medical accessories where too in many cases unfair pricing could noticed. Such stores could be opened by even individuals and cooperative societies and local governments had to the idea and render assistance to the interested persons/units. But concerned government agencies too have failed to perform.
For a common understanding it could be said that allopathic drugs categorized as “Essential Drugs” by World Health Organization as well as Ministry of Health Govt of India falling under the category of International Non-Proprietary Name (INN) class are drugs that may cover over 80% of the total needed quantity of drug cover. Let us assume that at present on an average per capita monthly expenditure on the medicines for general use is just Rs. 100. In case the doctors are made to prescribe medicines by generic name, discourage the conventional practices of marking the allopathic drugs with ‘disproportionately’ escalated MRPs and Jan Aushadi Stores are promoted, then the said expenditure of Rs.100 would reduce to even Rs.15 to 20 only. This way for 100 crore population direct financial burden would be reduced by Rs.8,500 cr per month or we could say Rs. one Lakh crore in a year. So, with so heavy stakes the unfair trade practitioners could do every thing possible to defeat the programmes like Jan Aushadi Store, fixing the prices for essential drugs and prescription writing by generic name.
In 2008 Jan Aushadi Store Scheme was conceived by Ram Vilas Paswan (Department of Pharmaceuticals Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizer) for selling “truthfully priced drugs”. In reply to a starred question No: 244 Rajya Sabha was informed on 30th March 2012 by MoS Chemicals and Fertilisers Shri Kant Jena that only 117 Jan Aushadi stores could be got opened. Ministry of Health GOI has fallen far behind in serving the common patient.
Rather the Jan Aushadi Store should have been promoted by then Azad’s Health Ministry instead of talking of super specialties hospitals. Inspite of so alarming disclosures made in 2012 even four years after that government has not been able to push ahead the Jan Aushadi Store and dismantle the most unfortunate ‘drug seller- prescription writer’ nexus. So, it could be simply alleged that the drug manufacturers and the doctors have managed to defeat this programme.
J&K Government too planned to open four stores in November 2010 but not even four effectively operating stores could be opened in a year. In 2016 J&K is said to have 11 such stores, where, is a question?. Chief Ministers and Union Health Ministers have so far failed to watch the interest of the common people.
The Ministries headed by Ghulam Nabi Azad and thereafter have talked of /and are still talking of “super specialties” but have failed on ground to promote even the Jan Aushadi Stores (from 2008 through 2016) that could save countless dying patients who are otherwise not able to buy even common medicines due to unfair prices. Even most of the Government doctors do not prescribe the genuinely priced drugs with or without brand name.
In 2008 the Paswan Ministry had also examined the likely impediments in implementation of the scheme. It was also decided that atleast the government doctors should be asked for writing the prescription by Generic name / chemical name (atleast for identified essential drugs ). There are some manufacturers who do sell the medicines with fairly marked MRP but their products are not dispensed by the retailers either due to the reason that (i) the doctors writing prescription do not prescribe such brands or (ii) where the retailers have option of selling the medicines without brand restrictions they prefer to sell a medicine labeled with higher MRP than the one labeled with reasonably low MRP.
Not only this may be in case the records are investigated there would be a un believably large difference between the billing price to a dealer and the MRP. May be sales tax authorities can also help the common man by taking note of such possibilities.
(Daya Sagar is Sr Journalist & social activist and can be reached at [email protected])

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