Availability, Affordability and pricing of the essential drugs: A case study of Bathinda city (Punjab).
In recent times individual spending on health care is the common issue. This issue is manifold as linked with the availability, affordability and pricing of drugs. The present study evaluates these issues related to essential drugs in Bathinda city which is one of the blocks of Malwa region. Availability, affordability and price differences are examined across two types of drugs generic and, branded-generic at public and private drug stores, using a primary survey of patients, drug retailers and wholesalers mainly. The study also analyses the evolution of government drug pricing policies and the impact of patents on drugs. Data on drug prices is collected of commonly used essential drugs of different therapeutic classes. Affordability of the essential medicines to the ordinary people is measured by comparing the treatment cost with the wages earned by them. To compare the domestic prices with international reference prices, median price ratios (MPR) are obtained by dividing the local public and private sector median prices with international reference prices. The study discovers that availability of essential drugs in the public sector is not sufficient to meet the challenge of providing essential drugs to the entire population of the city. The Private sector is dominating for providing drugs and better treatment which has very less transparency in the pricing system and variations in the retail prices and markups are very high. Affordability level of essential drugs for different treatments to ii the ordinary people is satisfactory but not for the people living below the poverty line. Policies should be targeted to maintain a transparent pricing system and should be affordable for all as well as making them more widely available. The drug price control order should be properly implemented in fixing the MRP of branded-generic drugs