Druggists Duping Patients; Same Medicines Being Sold At Varied Prices

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SRINAGAR: The people of Kashmir who were already worried about the sale of spurious drugs, have a new worry to add to their list of health care woes. As per our reports, many known pharmaceutical companies are making quite a fortune in Kashmir by selling the same formulations of drugs under different names and prices. As per the market surveycarried out at various medical outlets, various drugs including some antibiotics like Azithromycin and various supplements like Vitamin D3 supplements, potassium supplements, ceftriaxone, and pratham are being sold at varied prices. The survey also revealed that drugs like Zithium, ziclass, Aziwin, cefixime, cetrizine, phenyton, cycloserine, and ciproflaxin, Amlodipine, Ramipil, Pencil amine and many diabetic medicines belonging to the same pharmaceutical manufacturing companies were being priced at different prices. The variations in the prices range from 30-50 rupees, a huge margin for a poor patient.

Despite being fully aware of the various marketing tactics that these pharmaceutical companies resort to in order to earn more profits, our government has failed to come up with a strategic plan to overcome this issue. “Even though it is the Centre Government which fixes the price of various drugs and medicines being sold in the market, the least our State Government can do is advice the Centre to fix unanimous rates for the medicines which are available in the market under different company names,” said Dr. Nazir Mushtaq, a physician. “It isn’t only our public which is unaware about these marketing tactics, it is also our medical fraternity which continues to be ignorant of these duping tactics,” he further added. Mr. Abdul Qayoom, a leading pharmacist, revealed that most pharmaceutical companies in and outside the state had their own domains through which a certain drug was made available in the market.

He complained that the flow of drugs into the market was not being monitored properly. “Though the Government of India has fixed the prices of some 600 drugs, much more needs to be done. Selling the same drugs at different rates means cheating an innocent customer. But, we can’t do much about it because the MRP on the medicines is already printed by the pharmaceutical companies manufacturing them,” he said.

There is a deep-rooted nexus, not only between these pharmaceutical companies but also between the big power houses that pump massive quantities of spurious drugs into the valley. According to Drug and Food Control Organization (DFCO) the number of substandard drugs has increased from 21 in 2010-11 to more than 138 in 2013-14. “A patientdoesn’t know what medicine he or she is consuming. Most of the patients complain that despite taking proper medication, they are not getting better. In the race of earning more, people have decentralized their professional ethics to loot poor patients”, said Dr. Altaf Hussain, a pediatrician. DAK president, Dr. Nisar-ul-Hassan said, “From the last 35 years that I have been in this profession, I have seen this trade flourishing.

More than 95% of these companies run a 1000 crore industry of spurious drugs and charge different rates for the same medicine. The only solution to this problem is implementation of Drug Policy which means that generic medicines will be available at the same price for the same quantity. This will also help in eradicating spurious drugs which are doing more killing than curing, from the market”. On being contacted, Ms. Lotika khajuria, head of Drug and Food Control Department said, “This topic is vast and needs to be discussed at length. Unfortunately, I am a bit short of time right now so can’t speak on the issue right now.”

 

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