Use accessible, affordable and safe quality medicines in India

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I was invited to be a part of inaugural session on the subject ‘pen House Consultation on Accessibility to Quality Medicines in the Supply Chain’ organized at India Habitat Centre on Friday, 15th February, 2013 by the Partnership for Safe Medicines India (PSM).

The symposium was inaugurated by Mr. Keshav Desiraju, IAS, Health Secretary, Government of India.

Apart from me, those who participated in the inauguration function were Mr. Praful D. Sheth, Vice President International Pharmaceutical Federation; Dr. Dilip G. Shah, Secretary General, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, Mumbai; Dr. G.N. Singh, Drug Controller General India (DGCI), Government of India; Padma Shri awardee Dr. Ranjit Roy Chaudhary, Founder Delhi Society for Promotion of Rational Use of Drugs;  Mr. C.P. Singh, IAS, Chairman, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority; Ms Mridula Jain, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Government of India and Ms Reena George, Lawyer, Supreme Court of India.

The meeting was organized by Mr. Bejon Misra Founder, Partnership for Safe Medicines India.

Introducing the seminar, Mr. Sheth said that as on date, substandard drugs only constitute 5% and spurious drugs constitute 0.5% of drugs.

Dr. Ranjit Roy Chaudhary focused on the importance of rational use of drugs. He said that misuse of drugs and side effects of drugs are enormous but can be prevented; if not they can cause death. He said people go to hospital to get well and not to get sick.

Mr. Shah said that if in two words I have to define the role of pharma, it would be ensuring a supply chain of quality drugs.

Dr. GN Singh, Drug Controller General India said that any drug which is approved by DGCI, whether popular brand, unknown brand or drugs sold under a chemical name, is same as far as quality and standard of drug is concerned. He said that substandard drugs used to be 8-10% about 10 years back but because of good manufacture practices, now they have been brought down to 4-5% and we aim at reducing it to 1% in another five years.

Mr C P Singh said that every process in making a drug costs money. But affordability is an issue in India.

Ms Mridula Jain, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, said that more and more of exports of medicines in other countries are by default controlling the quality and safety. Today, Indian pharmaceuticals are present in trade over 220 countries.

Inaugurating the conference, Mr. Desiraju said that all stake holders need to work in symphony with each other with an objective to provide safe quality drug. He said that everybody knows that making a spurious medicine is a criminal act. What is important is to improve the quality and make sure that substandard drugs are not sold. He said that word ‘generic’ does not mean that the drug is substandard. He also showed concern on the rising problem of drug resistance. He also expressed concern that medical colleges today are producing doctors who are not as trained as they used to be in the past. The art and science of diagnosis is missing in them.

I participated in the symposium as the National Vice President (Elect), IMA and elaborated on the role of medical practitioner in accessible and affordable medical care to the community.

As per WHO, one in 10 hospital admissions leads to an adverse effect and one in 300 admissions in death. As per American Medical Association, 2000 death occur every year from unnecessary surgery, 7000 from medication errors in hospitals, 20000 from other errors in hospitals, 80000 from hospital acquired infections, 1.06 lakh deaths from adverse effects of drugs. In total, 2.25 lakh deaths occur every year in US due to unintentional medical errors. The incidence is between 10-17% in all cases.

As per CDC, 7 lakh people visit hospital emergency department every year because of wrong use of medication. Till 1994, one lakh people used to die every year in US alone because of preventable medical errors. When compared to Alzheimer’s, less than 50% people die in a year and only 17,000 people die of illicit drug used in the same year.

US has been able to prevent one lakh deaths every year under 1,00,000 campaign.

A point was raised that it is the duty of DGCI to inform every doctor on regular basis about new introductions on drugs, banning of drugs. It was also said that doctors should write cheapest drugs maintaining the quality and safety.

Ending the seminar, Mr. Bejon Misra said that most important is focus on consumer education.

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