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

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