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Non-allowance of branded medicines

It refers to a prominent English daily having conducted a study in the price of medicines sold at five chemist-shops around premier Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) at Chandigarh with a particular medicine having a price ranging from Rs 255 to Rs 1,550 at five shops. It is not surprising because National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) and others concerned at central government have continuously ignored all submissions regularly posted on and on websites of President and Prime Minister for past several years against allowing drug-manufacturers of generic medicines which are considered economical than branded medicines.

A box of generic capsules as a substitute of Absolute-3G having 10 strips with 10 capsules each with printed maximum-retail-price of Rs 1,500 per box of total 100 capsules is available at wholesale drug-market of Bhagirath Palace (Delhi) at just Rs 425. Even wholesalers at the same market happily sell the box at 50 per cent of MRP making customers also feel happy imagining a handsome 50 per cent discount but unaware of the bitter reality that the wholesaler minted huge profit of more than 75 per cent. Same is the situation with almost all generic medicines which are usually purchased in a big quantity for free supply at the government hospitals. Evidently, there is a sufficient gap for handsome bribery for the government purchases of generic medicines.

Branded medicines usually have 20-25 per cent profit-margin. NPPA should ensure that manufacturers of generic medicines may drastically reduce MRP of generic medicines so that these may also have MRP printed at maximum 20 per cent above the ex-factory price. Gimmick packaging aimed to sell more medicines or to befool customers must be regulated by allowing the sale of medicines in units of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 and likewise units. There is no sense in allowing strips like of 8 or 15. Advertised cough lozenges are at times packed in strips of eight since consumers judge price by cost per strip ignoring that they were befooled by packing eight rather than 10 lozenges. Likewise, strips of 15 tablets is made for over-sale of medicines. However, exemptions may be sought to pack medicines other than suggested units for the dose-wise administration of medicines. It should be ensured that name of medicine may be printed and embossed on each tablet or capsule to avoid wastage of medicine-strip in case capsule or tablet under printed name may be consumed.  

Madhu Agrawal

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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