Making Available Generic Drugs are Most Welcome! More Needs to be Done Though!

Generic Drugs
  • The Indian healthcare sector can be termed as satisfactory at the best of times. The long-existing lacunas in the healthcare sector were vividly exposed during those dreaded couple of years of the pandemic when millions of innocent lives were lost. The disturbing visuals of thousands of infected citizens queuing up for necessary treatment, admission to hospitals, and general chaos prevalent owing to lack of adequate beds, medicines, and healthcare professionals are still fresh in our memories. Scores of infected people gasping for oxygen across the country are some of the most disturbing visuals that will ever remain etched in our consciousness.

Generic Drugs

PC: The Week

  • We all fervently pray that those days never occur yet again. Period. The moot point to ponder over here is whether the administration has learned valuable lessons to ensure basic healthcare requirements are made available for the benefit of common citizens. To its credit, the Union Government and State Governments have invested in sprucing up the healthcare infrastructure, but the volume/density of our population means more often than not it remains inadequate. So much further needs to be accomplished on this front, you see. There are certain diseases whose treatment costs are so exorbitant that ordinary citizens are at the mercy of the public healthcare system to bail them out. Sadly, it’s not enough either.
  • Unfortunately, our public healthcare is not in a position to extend desirous treatment at par with the private healthcare sector. Thankfully, with the introduction of Jan Aushadhi medical shops around the country have come as a big boon for common citizens. However, the costs of treating certain grave diseases are still beyond the means of many. Nonetheless, and hearteningly, the cost of treating for instance sickle cell anemia in India is on the verge of crashing. Hydroxyurea, a line of treatment, will now cost less than 1% of the current import price. This is on account of a domestic manufacturer announcing it will supply vials at the new price to the government.

Generic Drugs

PC: Pharmeasy

  • Healthcare costs are a source of economic pressure on most Indian families. It’s led to govt intervention to improve access to medicines and provide insurance covers to cover emergencies. It’s an important safety net for vulnerable households. Unfortunately, its limitation is that it kicks in only in the case of hospitalization. Medical expenses that don’t require hospitalization put immense strain on household budgets. National Health Accounts estimates for 2019-20 showed that out-of-pocket expenses make up Rs. 47 for every Rs. 100 spent on total healthcare expenditure. This is a high burden on households, by global standards.
  • Moreover, over half of OOPE is on account of medicines. Getting a grip on the price of medicines is the key to reducing pressure on household budgets. Of course, GOI intervenes in the market to keep a check on the price of essential medicines. It has a list of 388 medicines, including stents, where it fixes the maximum price to ensure affordability. The efficacy of govt intervention depends on sound strategy. Mere price caps don’t guarantee accessibility. Affordability should be accorded due priority to make this generic drug/treatment truly worthwhile. Yes, public healthcare requires a further infusion of adequate funds as well.