A Study on the Availability and Prices of Medicines in India - 3rd quarter 2002 Conducted by the Voluntary Organisation in Interest of Consumer Education (VOICE) Sponsored by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA)
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (nppa), established in 1997 to monitor the availability of medicines in India and to fix and revise prices of medicines falling under the "Price Controlled" category, has assigned the ngo Voluntary Organisation in Interest of Consumer Education (voice) to conduct a field study. Their objective is to look for viable solutions in effectively monitoring the prices of essential, life-saving and prophylactic medicines in India and how to make them available at affordable rates.
The study carried out by voice focused on the two states of Uttar Pradesh in the north and Karnataka in the south. The three types of respondents identified were 1. Patients visiting chemist shops and hospitals, 2. medicine retailers and 3. hospitals and nursing homes, both in the public and private sectors.
The results arrived at indicate that almost 50 per cent patients refuse to visit government hospitals, despite high subsidies and often free service. More than 60 per cent patients consult chemists rather than qualified doctors to decide what medicines to buy. The results also show that a large number of drugs are sold without proper prescriptions. What is more alarming is that 30 per cent of the chemists in Uttar Pradesh do not invest in mandatory requirements like refrigeration facilities and 43 per cent of the doctors mentioned incidences of spurious drugs invading the market, although only seven per cent patients reported having knowledge of it. Lastly, a high number of patients believed the government should do more to promote alternative traditional medicines.