A large number of the Indian population are in a state of poverty. As a direct result, their access to healthcare is often limited. Even on a basic level some cannot afford the price of generic medication. For others it may be the case that these medications are simply not sold in an area local to them. Some states are aiming to rectify these situations with the announcement of several government funded generic medicine pharmacies.
As previously mentioned by Health Issues India (HII), many private medical insurance policies are aimed towards the middle class, due to a more guaranteed payment of the premium charges. Government offered insurance policies are criticised as having many cracks in which certain treatments fall through. Often, they do not cover generic medications, forcing many who cannot afford them to go without.
The state of Gujarat last month announced the opening of 52 new generic medicine stores. These shops, named “Deendayal Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Kendra” were created with the intention of selling various government certified medications at up to a 90% discount compared to branded medication.
The future aim of the project is to expand to between 500 and 1000 stores, with 1000 types of drugs on sale, 500 of which are in the government’s essential medications list. These stores will operate 24 hours a day. This will allow for cheap medications to be accessed at many locations, with large cities containing several of the stores.
Alongside this the Gujarat government has announced, in a bid to push for the digitisation of healthcare, a mobile application called “G-DAVA”. This app focuses on medication, allowing users to compare prices, find locations in which the medications are sold as well as stock levels and find information on the chemical composition of the medication.
This app may give hopes that some Indians may be able to find information regarding potential cheaper options of their own accord, as well as alerting them to medical retailers they may otherwise have not been aware of. This may be of vital importance, with growing concern that some doctors are favouring prescriptions of higher price branded medication over cheaper alternatives. The Gujarat minister for health and family welfare Shankar Chaudhary states that “many doctors do not follow MCI (Medical Council of India) guidelines and prescribe only expensive branded medicine and not the cheaper generic versions”
The state of Madhya Pradesh is following the same plan of state funded pharmacies, opening stores at 254 locations across the state and aiming to reduce the cost of medications.
This policy seems to be becoming a trend in Indian state health care and may provide some manner of relief to those unable to afford generic medications in the near future. This could have massive potential, as ease of access to medications early on in an illness could relieve hospital waiting rooms as less people become more severely ill due to conditions that would otherwise be treatable with over the counter products.