Generic drugs have a long way to benefit the poor

By Kritika Arora

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Jana Sanjivni  Scheme aimed at benefitting the poor by making generic drugs available at cheaper rates is yet to make an impact.

Bangalore, Oct 12, 2017: Jana Sanjivni  Scheme of the Karnataka government that is meant to encourage the sale of generic drugs to the poor at subsidized rates of 50-60per cent is redundant as most drugs are unavailable at these stores.

“We have just basic drugs in our store, like for fever, cold and cough. Every day we get 200-300 prescriptions with salts that are only made by branded companies. So most of the patients go to the Jantha Bazar where the drugs are sold at MRP,” says the pharmacist at the Victoria Hospital’s Jana Sanjivini store.

Mahommad Rafi, Arifa’s(patient) father in the hospital, said, “My daughter has a kidney stone. The doctor prescribed Max View which costs Rs. 735 for 50 ml. I have been working in this area as an auto driver since four to five years but I never knew there is a store here that sells medicines at half the price.”

Mr. Ranganatha, who works for the scheme said, “The scheme was launched keeping in mind the poor people. But we are able to serve just 0.5 per cent of the population in the state. Our main customers are those who keep in touch with the Government’s schemes or the working staff of the hospital itself who know about the store.”

Currently Bangalore has five such stores including one in Victoria Hospital and one in KC General Hospital. Bowring Hospital’s Jana Sanjivini store was shut down two months ago as it was selling the drugs on MRP.

“Not many drugs are sold at Jana Sanjivini. For example, Acitrom, an anti-coagulant tablet, you will not get in a generic store. Sometimes the quality of the generic drug is also low. Moreover, majority of the people we deal with don’t know about Jana Sanjivini. Be it due to illiteracy or low popularity of the scheme, they are just not aware”, says Dr. Praveen, a post-graduate student practising in the Medicine Department of the Victoria Hospital.

“With just five stores in the city compounded with the lack of awareness and popularity around the scheme, the main purpose of serving the poor remains defeated,” added Ranganatha.

“Makin generic drugs stores work will require political will, cooperation by professionals (which is often a barrier) and consumer education,” says Dr. Thelma Narayan, an epidemiologist, health policy analyst and activist and is director of Sochara, School of Public Health Equity and Action (SOPHEA)..


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