ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Neela MukherieeSubscribe to Neela Mukheriee

India s Trade Balance during the Seventies

in fact this is a measly list. It does not contain any vaccines whatsoever, nor for that matter any of the life-saving sera used in cases of snake-poisoning or diptheria, or tetanus for example. Other major deletions include: Oxygen (!); all the drugs from the group of powerful pain-killers like morphine/pethidine/pentazocine; diloxamide fluorate considered as the "drug of choice" in amoebiasis by some textbooks; codeine, one of the handful of drugs proved to be really effective in suppressing cough; nystatin, an antifungal agent so essential to treat commonly found vaginal fungal infection; injection gentamycin, a commonly employed, not so costly, very effective antibiotic. (The list unnecessarily includes oxytetracycline when its parent analogue tetracycline has been included. Is this to please Pfizer, whose famous brand, terramycin contains oxytetra- cycline?) None of the antacids, laxatives, nor cimetidine, the peptic-ulcer healer find a place in this list. Oral rehydration salt, which is the most important ingredient in the treatment of diarrhoea has been subsequently deleted from this list. This list of important deletions can he increased at length; the point is that many life-saving or quite essential drugs, including vaccines, have not been included in this list. No wonder that the drug industry is happy with this list! Jayaraman has criticised the Licensing and Pricing Policy. Nobody can defend the government's existing licensing and pricing policy. These are basically half-hearted measures with a "please all" motto and through which the bureaucracy thrives and allows the powerful ones amongst the industry to thrive through bribes and lobbying. The answer to the existing muddle- heade4 controls is not 'no controls'; but more rational, simpler, effective controls. The monopolies need to be restricted because they procure licences and corner the market by simply sitting over the licences. For example, it was reported that out of 32 items of bulk drugs covered by 13 licences, 21 items had not been produced by Glaxo Laboratories for five years! Jayaraman wants us to believe that "the complexity and often, the irrationality of drug pricing in India have arisen, not so much because of the extension of price- controls to over 85 per cent of these products and packs artificially and often arbitrarily divided into four categories. .." But on the contrary the plethora on non-essential products manufactured by the drug industry has necessited the division into four groups. (1) Life-saving drugs, (2) Essential but not life saving, (3) Useful but not belonging to the above categories and lastly (4) others like tonics, cough syrups, .. etc (this last group being free from price-control).
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