Davai's Take on Bridging the Healthcare Divide in India

Healthcare

3 min read

Saransh Chaudhary
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Medications account for a significant portion of India's out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. The solution? An emphasis on educating consumers about cost-effective generics which offer the same benefits as their pricier branded equivalents.

With many Indians lacking adequate health insurance, high healthcare costs are compromising the well-being of numerous families, pushing them into financial hardships. Despite medical treatments in India being pivotal, the reality remains that they're largely inaccessible and unaffordable for a vast majority.

It's noteworthy that while consultation, diagnostics, and hospital charges are skyrocketing, the largest chunk of personal healthcare spending is on medications. The solution? Transitioning towards cost-effective generics, the reasonably-priced successors to branded drugs whose patents have expired.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has highlighted the potential of generic drugs in decreasing healthcare expenses and enhancing access. Although governmental Jan Aushadhi centres and private generic retailers strive to make pure generics more accessible, a prevailing myth persists: higher cost implies superior quality.

Many perceive generics as inferior or counterfeit compared to their branded versions. Consequently, as prices of off-patent drugs decline, both doctors and patients often gravitate towards the more expensive brands. Dispelling misconceptions about cost-effective generics is vital. To build trust, there must be rigorous regulatory checks ensuring top-tier quality.

The CCI stresses the need to ensure quality in both pure and branded generics, emphasizing the necessity for tests confirming bioequivalency. A unified regulatory standard through integrating state drug authorities with the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) can foster this trust.

Effective strategies, like Tamil Nadu's centralized drug procurement system, have proven successful in reducing generic drug prices. With the government's negotiation power and stringent quality regulations, tangible change is within reach.

Moreover, revamping the drug pricing mechanism is overdue. Revisions to the National List of Essential Medicines should be annual, focusing on medicines for prevalent diseases. The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) can be a game-changer here. By collaborating with the pharma sector to negotiate lower prices, fostering competition, and enhancing its "Pharma Sahi Daam" mobile app's outreach, public awareness can be broadened.

As a testament to what robust government intervention can achieve, the NPPA's initiative in 2019 reduced the maximum retail price of several cancer medications by up to 90%. With innovative policy-making and joint efforts from key industry stakeholders, we can make healthcare accessible and affordable for all. At Davai, we're dedicated to being part of this transformative journey.

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