Measuring Medicine Prices and Availability of Commonly used Essential Medicines using WHO/HAI Methodology in Hyderabad, India
Objectives: Access to health care is a basic right of population. Essential medicines are those which satisfy the priority of health care needs and intended to be available at all times. Hence prices and availability need to assess periodically. The objective of the study was to measure the variation in prices of selected medicines, to measure the availability of some selected medicines used for treating common diseases/ailments and to compare the prices and availability of medicines among the sectors. The present survey is conducted for 20 essential medicines in Hyderabad, Telangana. Methods: Medicines were selected based on the criteria of WHO/HAI methodology. Data was collected during October 2019 to March 2020 for originator brands and lowest priced generics in 60 medicine outlets. Prices were compared to international reference prices and expressed as median price ratio. Percent availability computed only on the day of data collection. Results: Median MPRs for originator brands and lowest priced generics were 2.20 and 1.53 in independent outlets, 2.20 and 1.61 in chain pharmacies respectively. Median MPR for generics in Jan Aushadhi Kendra was 0.38 i.e., all available medicines were priced less than international reference prices. Availability was 95.8%, 95.4% and 67.5% for generics and 12% and 13.3% for originator brands respectively. Conclusion: The survey revealed reasonable prices and high availability in private sectors but in JanAushadhi Kendra, prices are flattened with good availability. The maximum applicable Goods and Services Tax rate is 12% for medicines under price control and life-saving drugs resulted in 2.3% increase in tax rate ultimately causing burden to patients. Government should ensure certain policies about importance of generic drugs and their availability in Jan Aushadhi Kendra.