Every human being needs medicine. But when an access to this essential commodity becomes difficult, it turns into a concern. Inaccessibility to this commodity, which caters to diverse range of interest of human beings such as political, social, emotional and material, has become a concern that needs some urgent attention.

The pharmaceutical industry grew massively over the last few years and has been effective as the main source of generic drugs. The sector witnessed an increase in exports on account of low manufacturing costs and good quality, which in turn created an international demand for the same. Today, India has catapulted itself to the position of key global players in the production of medicines. As per volume of pharmaceutical commodities is concerned, India has captured the 4th position and in terms of value of production, it comes 13th.

It can be said that India has made medicine affordable to thousands and thousands of people across the world. But, in spite of all these, the pharmaceutical sector in India is facing grave challenges that demand urgent attention. The main concern is that of the accessibility and affordability of essential medicines by the layman, especially the poor populace.

The factors that need to be looked upon while endeavoring to make medicines accessible to the populace are drug pricing, rational use of drugs, drug promotion, promotion of generic drugs, strengthening of Pharma PSUs and Small Scale Industries, clinical trials, IPR and Access to Medicines and going beyond TRIPS.

It is held that to improve situation and to provide access to medicines to common man, some immediate measures need to be implemented, which if effective can contribute towards positivity.

The prices of the essential drugs need to be controlled to make it affordable to common men, especially the poor people. For this, the price control of all generic medicines in the National List of Essential Medicines should be brought under therapeutic class rather than individual drugs. Every vaccine and recombinant DNA technology-based items should be listed. The price control list of drugs should be revised on a regular basis.

The National List of Essential Medicines should be revised in every 2 to 3 years. An independent body should be introduced to collect data on the market for medicines. Drug promotional practices should be curbed. Along with these, concentrated pooled drug procurement systems should also be encouraged and promoted.

It is also recommendable that before going for any taxing obligation, TRIPS-plus provisions should be evaluated well. A single regulatory agency can also be appointed to look into areas of drug pricing, approval and quality issues.

Along with these, the healthcare budgetary allocations should also be increased, so that the citizens’ fundamental right to health care is realized.

It can be concluded by saying that the issue can be resolved by formulating a policy that is pro-public health and pro-equity and deals with the urgencies of public health, accessibility and affordability of essential drugs. It should also include precautionary measures to safeguard against any difference on drug prices and accessibility, which might be experienced with the TRIPS. To read the full version of the PDF, click here.