Profits and not improving accessibility matter to Indian drug makers

FICCI conference organised to discuss access to generic medicines focuses more on increasing exports

By Ratnika Sharma
Published: Thursday 06 December 2012

Indian pharmaceutical companies contribute around 20 per cent of the generic medicines in the global market and are considered the pharmacy of the world.

Generic medicines play an important role in improving accessibility to medicines all over the world as they are affordable. But within the country, there are gaping holes when it comes to accessing such medicines.

To address some of these issues, FICCI, which annually organises India Pharma Summit, named its theme as “Access to medicines and global outreach” for this year. But the event organised on December 4 mainly focused on increasing the pharma industry's global exports by acquiring new markets.

The summit even failed to suggest some solid solutions to increase access to medicines, especially for the poor. The industry representatives blamed the lack of infrastructure for ineffective functioning of the public health care system and not the lack of generic medicines.

“Making medicines free will not solve the problem,” said Ajay Sharma, chairperson and MD, Zydus Cadilla, shifting the focus to the larger problem of inaccessible health care.

Industry officials maintained that making generic medicines would reduce their revenue and hence hamper growth of research and development that ultimately leads to innovative ideas.

They shifted the blame of lack of accessibility of drugs on inefficient government policies and corrupt medical practices.  On varying prices of even the available drugs, D G Shah, co-chair FICCI Pharma Committee and secretary general of Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance said, “We are governed by the free market and cannot ensure uniformity”.

In that regard the innovative methods suggested by the delegates focused mainly on improving quality of drugs and building the public-private partnership (PPP) to ensure public expenditure and private quality to deliver effective health care system. “There has to be true partnership between the government, NGOs and the industry,” said Aditya Vijay Kumar Berlia, member management board, Martin and Harris Pvt Ltd, a private sector organisation that offers services in pharmaceuticals research. WHO, on the other hand, supported government of India's improved role in use of generic medicines.



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