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How do you price wellness and goodwill?

May 23, 2012

The current big tussle on in India is the pricing of what are called “essential medicines” by the World Health Organization. No one can deny that India needs “cheap/cheaper” drugs for a host of illnesses. A National List of Essential Medicines includes over 300 formulations. And the Government of India wants to make sure that all these are available at an affordable price without sacrificing quality. An empowered committee offers a solution, which is then opposed by the Ministry of Health and the health NGOs, while manufacturers watch on because it suits them to do so.  This solution looks at capping prices at the previous three-month average of the bestselling brands in each class. Here then is the crazy intersection of commercial imperatives, pitted against social emergencies, bumping into inept regulatory frameworks.

The heart of the matter is simply this: should the price of medicines be regulated at all? Yes would be the resounding answer all around the world. This is no longer a commercial space where only market forces can be allowed to act. Pharmaceutical companies have never seriously looked at the option of self-regulation. For them most times life is cheap, drugs are not.

Disease burdens are rising around the world, diseases are becoming intractable and hard to beat, therapy solutions harder to find and commercialize effectively. So the message we would like to send to the pharmaceutical majors is that we need more cooperation between them to find new molecules, bring them successfully to market and price them in such a way that the entire cost research is not put on the patient’s shoulder.  We would like doctors to be on our side and not be a part of the current nexus between medical experts, academics, researchers and manufacturers. Medicines that save lives cannot be subject to the same variable that influence pricing of items that are for consumer indulgence and excess consumption ( which is another debate altogether).


From → General Health

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