Drug firms not making cheaper medicines, rues Paswan

February 23rd, 2009 - 5:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Mohali (Punjab), Feb 23 (IANS) The government Monday accused drug manufacturers of not making cheaper medicines available to the public.
Speaking to the media here after inaugurating a fair-price medicine store - Jan-Aushadhi - Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Ram Vilas Paswan admitted that the government did not have complete control over prices of medicines.

“Thousands of children and elderly people are dying in our country for want of quality medicines and the condition is worse in poorer states. The sad part of the story is that private players control manufacturing and sale of medicines,” Paswan said.

According to him, private sector pharmaceutical companies posted a cumulative annual turnover of nearly Rs.720 billion (Rs.72,000 crore), whereas public sector firms could notch sales of only Rs.3 billion (Rs.300 crore).

“We have very little control over the prices of medicines and we have seen that these private players ensure cheaper medicines disappear from the market,” Paswan alleged.

However, he said, more Jan-Aushadhi stores such as the one opened in Mohali Monday could make a difference by selling medicines at reasonable prices.

“We opened India’s first Jan-Aushadi store at the civil hospital in Amritsar in November last year. We will open four more stores at Bathinda, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala by March 31. All districts here will have such stores by the year end,” Paswan said.

“The first Jan-Aushadi store in Amritsar has done a whopping business in a span of just two months. There is a discount ranging up to 90 per cent on various life-saving medicines.”

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