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Monday, September 19, 2016

Generic medicines available in wholesale-market at just 28-percent of MRP: Allowing so much trade-margin anti-public


SUBHASH CHANDRA AGRAWAL
(Guinness Record Holder & RTI Activist)

A box of ten strips of ten capsules each of generic medicine ‘Geomax-Plus’ (fssai licensed) with maximum retail price (MRP) printed at rupees 150 per strip (total rupees 1500 for complete box) is available in wholesale medicine-market of Bhagirath Palace (Delhi) at just rupees 425 only! Significantly it is sold as a substitute for branded medicine ‘Absolut-3G’ with MRP of rupees 149 per strip of ten but available in wholesale medicine-market at rupees 120 per strip. It is not the case with just ‘Geomax-Plus’ only. Almost every generic medicine has MRP such fantastically high so as to allow profits upto even 400-percent. Another example is box of ‘Mecofol-Plus’ containing ten strips of ten capsules each with total MRP of rupees 1320 available in wholesale medicine-market at just rupees 290.

Whole concept of generic medicines which are supposed to be a cheaper version of branded medicine, vanishes when retailers are allowed to sell these with such fantastically high trade-margin of about 400-percent! Central government should impose some maximum trade-margin on ex-factory prices of all medicines including generic medicines. Rather manufacturers can be required to print both ex-factory price and maximum-retail-price (MRP) on medicine-packs. With many retailers competing by giving publicised discounts of 10-11 percent, also it is time to reduce trade-margins on medicines.

It is also a matter of great concern that manufacturers/marketers of branded medicines are allowed to charge such huge profits only because of brand-name where medicines with same salt can be marketed in name of generic medicines in such fantastically low cost. In case generic medicines lack quality, these should not at all be marketed because making medicines available at lower price must not be compromised with health of those consuming these. National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority NPPA) under Union Ministry of Chemicals should on its website prominently display generic version of branded medicines. Instead of NPPA reducing prices of medicines at intervals, complete downward revision of all the medicines including of generic ones should be done in one go.

Even branded medicines with same salt are marketed at highly different MRPs by different companies. Antibiotic ‘Ofloxacin’ has Maximum Retail Price (MRP) for 10 tablets of rupees 314.92, 88.00 and 55.00 for marketed by three different companies. 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.

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 apart from printing/embossing name of the medicine individually on each tablet/capsule. Metric-system of packaging in medicines should be introduced in true metric spirit 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 etc unless exemption is sought for some dose-wise administration. Planning Commission’s recommendation to shift National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) from Union Ministry of Chemicals to Union Health Ministry should be accepted.

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