MEDICINES produced by local pharmaceutical industries marked a sharp and substantial fall for some years after the operationalisation of the drug policy. But it appears now that the benefits derived by consumers from such price reduction is starting to disappear. Prices of medicines that decreased by big margins earlier started creeping up from the late nineties. In recent years, there was noted further increase of prices of these medicines. In some cases, there exists hardly any price differential between the medicines produced by local companies and the high prices that used to be charged by foreign companies before the implementation of the drug policy. This trend is inconsistent with the egalitarian outcome of the drug policy that was previously envisioned.
Allegations are frequently heard these days that the local medicine manufacturers are being unethical in their marketing practices. They are also accused of fixing prices arbitrarily that have no relationship to actual production costs and the need for reasonable profits. The companies are blamed for undue profiteering instincts and there is no governmental regulation noted in response to such irresponsible behaviour on the part of the companies.
Besides, the companies are also facing criticisms for not producing quality medicine. It is alleged that some local producers deceive their consumers by declaring in the wrappings or coatings of capsules and tablets respectively the amount of medicines in them. But the capsules and tablets, on analysis, may be found containing less than the declared amount of medicines. The companies do this to increase their profit margins but the consumers suffer from not getting fully cured of ailments from using such medicines or relapsing back to sickness from under dosing .
Thus, both in areas of price and quality, the local medicine companies need to be subjected to more effective regulatory actions which is presently missing. The development of the local pharmaceutical sector, on the whole, has been encouraging. But its performance in the areas -- focused above -- does need to be regulated so that the vision of medicine to all can be truly realised at the earliest.