Since treatment in private hospitals has always been an unaffordable proposition for poorer sections of the society, they could at least bank on public health system. However, with prices of medicines skyrocketing, that option too is gone. What is the use of treatment if you can’t afford essential drugs for medication?
There has been steady increase in medicine prices, so much so that even middle and upper middle classes are finding it difficult to afford, leave alone lesser mortals who can’t afford two square meal a day. While profiteering has long been a well-established practice in pharma business, the sudden and steep rise in prices of essential medicines are beyond anybody’s comprehension.
What could be the reasons behind this trend? Who is responsible for it and who is the ultimate beneficiary? Answers to these questions are not far to seek. However, while drug industry is made a fall guy,real culprits get away unscathed and unblemished. To dig out the truth, one needs to go deeper into the malaise. It is not possible without taking into account pharmacists’ version.
Prod any drug manufacturer in confidentiality; he will reel out dirty secrets of the trade, albeit in hushed tones. If you listen to him carefully, you will realise he is not alone to blame for all that is rotting in the pharma sector. There are many disgruntled pharma professionals who won’t come out in the open with their grievances for fear of reprisal. However, they all agree on one thing – some doctors are at the root of this disquiet.
Squarely blaming these tainted doctors for the state of affairs in the pharma sector, they say if not for their unfair demands in the form of bribes or inducements, the business would not have stooped to such lows. “These medical practitioners get away with all the booty leaving drug manufacturers and their associates with only crumbs and the ignominy of the professional misconduct” is a common refrain.
Pharmacists do indulge in all the unfair practices that go against their professional ethics. They fix unreasonably exorbitant prices for their products, use money power to fix up government officials and lobby with medical practitioners to push their sale. Over and above, they take all the blame for the dubious deals to dupe consumers. However, what they get in return by way of profit is barely enough to make both ends meet. All this for a profession that offers little incentive in return for the trials and tribulations they cope with as a price of the profession.
That’s the reason many pharmacists are increasingly feeling that the business is not worth the while and hence want to leave it at the first instant as and when they find another vocation to fall back on. But very few are lucky enough to do that.
On the other hand, doctors, who make the business of medicine run round, use and abuse the sector at whim. Being at the helm of medical profession they are a pampered lot. They command an unconditional and unenviable respect from within and outside the medical fraternity. There are many doctors who treat their profession more as a money spinner than service to humanity. They indulge in all sorts of professional misdemeanor, be it fleecing patients through unethical medical practices or demanding incentives from pharmaceuticals to prescribe particular brands of medicines.
Such tainted doctors, who are a blot on the fair name of medical profession, play spoilsport for all the goodness of entire medical system. Such is the awe of the profession that no finger is raised against them. If drug prices are rising beyond reasonable limits today, it is a reflection on the undue demands of these tainted doctors. You call them black sheep of the fraternity, but these dishonest medicos call the shots as mainstream medical professionals.
For long we have made pharma professionals scapegoat for all the ills in the pharma sector turning a blind eye to doctors’ devious ways to tweak prices of essential drugs and indulging in favouritism for vested interests. While nobody is above board, including pharmacist, it is time we gave the devil its due.
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The opinion expressed in the article is of the writer. Writer is a freelance journalist/journalist based in Delhi