Pricing and packing of medicines

SUBHASH CHANDRA AGRAWAL
(Guinness Record Holder & RTI Activist)

National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) should look into pricing medicines in India where same salt is marketed by different companies in varying prices. Antibiotic ‘Ofloxacin’ has Maximum Retail Price (MRP) for 10 tablets of rupees 314.92, 88.00 and 55.00 for same medicine marketed by three different drug-manufacturers. There are numerous such medicines where drug-manufacturers are cashing their name by earning huge profits. What more, same medicines are available even at much-much lower prices when packed in bulk! Fancy-packaging is yet other way of charging heavily for medicines. Drug-companies bribe medical-practitioners through costly super-luxury, foreign-trips and many other gifts of every range according to reach of medical-practitioners for recommending their branded medicines. Since retailers are competing by giving publicised discounts of 10-11 percent, it is time to reduce trade-margins on medicines.

Metric-system of packaging in medicines in true spirit should be introduced by making it compulsory to pack medicines in units of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 or 500 gms/mltrs/kgs/litres/units unless exemption is sought for some dose-wise administration. Many drug-manufacturers pack commonly used cough-lozenges in strips of eight instead of normal ten because consumers judge price per strip rather than a lozenge. Only recently medicines like Amaryl-1, ‘Telma-40’ and ‘Glyzid-M’ have been started being marketing in strips of fifteen tablets instead of earlier ten. Idea behind such a move is to ‘over-sale’ medicines because chemists usually sell medicines in full strips only, and unused tablets/capsules in part-strip are total waste for consumers. Union government should ensure that imported medicines like ‘Janumet’ which are available in strips like of fourteen tablets may be especially packed for Indian market in strips of ten. Planning Commission’s recommendation to shift National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority from Union Ministry of Chemicals to Union Health Ministry should be accepted.

Many-a-times name of medicine is printed only once on a complete strip of tablets/ capsules, thereby causing great confusion when the tablets/ capsules under the printed name are consumed. It is difficult to recognise medicine in balance of the strip having no name of the medicine. Authorities should make it compulsory to print name of the medicine on complete strip over every tablet/ capsule. Moreover it should also be compulsory to print/ emboss name of the medicine individually on each tablet/ capsule.

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