Thanks to a charitable organisation, you can now compare and buy your medicines at a significant discounts compared to the branded ones of large pharmaceutical companies
A drug called “Bisoprolol - 2.5 mg” manufactured in India and prescribed for controlling hypertension (BP) is sold in the market at rates ranging from Rs1.70 per tablet to Rs 4.48 for the same tablet as detailed here below:
This is just one example of how the same drug is priced differently by different pharmaceutical companies. If you dig into the more expensive drugs, you will find that many a drugs are priced differently, even ten times higher without any rhyme or reason.
The same drug with same composition but named differently is priced by one company several times the price quoted by another company. And this is beyond the comprehension of ordinary mortals, because, there was no method by which patients could unravel this irrational practice shrouded in mystery, till a charitable organization came out with a website to expose this patently unfair pricing policy of pharmaceutical companies. This very thoughtful information on online pharmacy is meticulously provided for the first time by the only website in India launched by Vinodkumar Memorial Charitable Trust under the name of www.medguideindia.com
. It provides a wide variety of information free of all charges. For every drug produced in India, such a comparison is available, which is really a boon to the discerning public.
The online pharmacy website provides information about the drugs, their composition and comparative prices of various brands of the same composition, manufactured or marketed by various pharma companies in India. It also provides very useful information about indication or contra-indication of drugs, list of banned drugs as notified by the government, import of drugs for personal use, etc. The website contains a wealth of information about immunization, and about health insurance plans, including precautions to be taken while opting for a health plan, etc.
How to get the information?
Once you go to this online pharmacy website mentioned above, it is easy to navigate through the site to search for the drug information. The following steps will get you the required information mentioned above.
1. Go to the home page/drug page of the above website
2. Look for “Rapid search by brand name”
3. Enter the brand name in the search box, then click on ‘submit’
4. You will get full details of the drug mentioned by you. Then you click on the “Active Ingredients (Generic)”
5. There you will get the details of generic name of the constituents of the drug. You then click on the “Matched brands with above constituents”
6. You will then get a full list of all brands of the same medicine with full details as mentioned in the above example.
The best way to make use of this information is to take out a print-out of this full list of brands of the same medicine priced differently and show it to your physician, who has prescribed the medicine for you, so as to get a fresh prescription for the same drug at the lowest available price.
It is possible that the doctors themselves may or may not be aware of this price differential, as most of them go by what the medical representatives brief them about the drug sold by the company they represent. It is desirable to consult your doctor with these details as it is not known whether there could be any difference in the quality of the drugs dispensed, as unfortunately, there is no systematic inspection of the manufacturing facilities of the pharma companies by any quality control authority in India, as is done by the Food and Drug Administration of USA.
This information will be very useful and can save a lot of money for all those who are under continuous medication for considerable length of time. We should be grateful to the Vinodkumar Memorial Charitable Trust for collating this information so precisely and presenting it in such a nice way for the benefit of the public. A great service to the suffering humanity indeed!
The Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 1995
As per the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 1995, the Government of India has ordered that pricing of certain essential drugs are to be determined according to the prescribed formula, but it covers only 76 bulk drugs at present. Even in the case of these 76 drugs, there is a considerable variation in the prices and there appears to be really no control over the pricing of drugs and it is only an eye wash, serving no useful purpose.
This practice of pricing of drugs at such fancy prices reflects very poorly not only on the ministry of health of the Government of India, but also on the medical fraternity, who should have unearthed this and put an end to this obnoxious practice, however legal it may be, by prescribing only the lowest priced drugs, in the interest of a large number of poor people suffering in our country.
Let us hope that the powers that be will open their eyes at least now and take steps to abolish such wide disparity in drug pricing and provide succour and relief to the suffering people of our country.
Acknowledgement: Vinodkumar Memorial Charitable Trust
(The author is a financial analyst and he writes for Moneylife under the pen-name ‘Gurpur’)