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Essential drugs 'out of stock' in City

Reshma R, Bangalore, Sep 2, 2013, DHNS:

Prices reduced following Drug Price Control Order; 45 days given for repackaging

Patients are left in the lurch as at least 886 essential  medicines have become scarce.

Patients in the City are facing a severe shortage of at least 886 basic essential drugs leading to non-availability of nearly 4,000 brands of medicines.

The City has been witnessing the paucity since June owing to new Drug Price Control Order norms that led to change in prices of medicines.

The government ordered a price reduction (Drug Price Control Order) in 348 molecules (components of drugs) that are considered essential and in turn increased the price of the non- scheduled ones.

While a short deadline of 45 days was given to the manufacturers to repack the medicines - 886 drugs - with new prices printed on them, they found it a Herculean task to complete even after four months. Result, consumers are now at the receiving end.

Raveesha from Srirampuram has take her daily dosage of Gardinal, used for treating epilepsy. “Every time my medicines are over, I have to search in at least a couple of shops as they tell me they are out of stock.”

Chemist P Manjunath of Guru Pharmacy said “though there is a demand for medicines to be taken on a daily basis, we are unable to deliver them as the chemists’ margin has been reduced.” There are also repeated complaints from patients about the non-availability of these medicines, he added.

The medicines include those used to treat thyroid, blood pressure and epilepsy.
Insulin (used for diabetes), Gardinal and Eptoin (used to treat blood pressure), Atorvastin (used to treat cholesterol) etc, are likely to be unavailable in a week’s time, according to N R Kamath, a city-based chemist.

“For me, it is a necessary to take Losar 50 for blood pressure. I travel all the way from Yeshwantpur to RT Nagar to purchase this medicine,” said Kumar who has now stocked the medicine.

There is also shortage of wide range of antibiotics including Augumentin used to treat complications such as pneumonia, sinusitis and bronchitis.

“There is no immediate problem as doctors are prescribing alternative medicines. Once the stock is over, the problem is bound to arise,” said a chemist from Hitesh Medicals.

Karnataka Chemists’ and Druggists’ Association President Guddodji said they were unhappy as their margin has not been take into consideration by the policy makers.

Reduced margin

“The manufacturers have got at least 200 per cent increase in profit for non-scheduled drugs which has helped them make up for the price reduction for scheduled drugs,” he said and added that retailers’ margin had been reduced by nearly four per cent.

According to the norms set, chemists ought to get a 16 per cent margin, while in the current situation they are getting 3.2 per cent less.

However, Drug Controller Dr B R Jayashetty denies that problems of this sort exist. “Chemists are business-minded people. You cannot go by their words,” he said adding that if there was any such problem, people should approach the officials.


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