Health Policy

Popular drugs are Irrational, says Panel

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s high-level expert group on universal health coverage claims that most common drugs consumed in India are “irrational, needless or useless”. An interim progress report, submitted to the Planning Commission, says popular drugs like Combiflam, Digene, Becosule, Corex, Phensedyl and Liv 52 are irrational cough mixture, needless antacid, irrational analgesic combination and irrational vitamin combination. These six drugs have a cumulative sales figure of nearly Rs 588 crore. The committee suggests scaling up of public spending on drugs from 0.5 percent of GDP, supply quality generic drugs and enforce rational use, warehouses at every district level, one retail outlet in every block level and five in district headquarters. The committee’s tentative proposals include “Step up level of public spending on health to a minimum of 4 percent of GDP by 2017. Between 70 percent-75 percent of public spending should be statutorily allocated for primary and secondary healthcare. Use general taxation as the principal source for mobilising resources.” Interim recommendations also include reviving drug PSUs by infusing capital with autonomous status. “Revisit FDI rules to bring down share of foreign players to less than 49 percent. PSUs will offer opportunity to produce volume drugs and help in benchmarking drug costs. Revive old vaccine manufacturing units with additional infusion of capital and a new vaccine park with an autonomous status,” as per the panel’s recommendation. It added: “A pervasive price control on all essential drugs is called for especially in post patent regime, weed out irrational drugs and need to bring in AYUSH medicines under Essential Drugs List.”

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