Stop drug overpricing by making an online directory where all drugs must list their prices

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Today, a hospital or pharmacy in India can charge whatever price they wish for drugs that they prescribe because there are too many loopholes in the law.

To illustrate, my friend’s mother recently underwent chemotherapy to treat a cancer. Her hospital bill showed the cost of one bottle of the chemotherapy drug as ₹84,000. After the treatment, she found the same drug being sold for ₹64,000 at a pharmacy in a different town. She then checked the drug’s cost with a friend who owned a pharmacy. He offered it to her at ₹40,000, and he was still making a tidy profit.

A hospital overcharging a cancer patient by over ₹40,000 on one drug strikes me as sick behaviour that cannot be condemned enough.

One reason why the drug industry is able to charge as they please is because everything they do is hidden from public view, or buried in medical jargon. Instead, if we make them put everything out in public view in simple terms that even a layman can understand, it will be harder for them to cheat us.

One simple way to do this is to do an Amazon on healthcare services. Like when we want to buy something, we go to an Amazon or Flipkart to find similar products and compare prices. Why not the same approach for drugs in Indian market?

This petition is to request the Government of India to set up such an online directory or website. No drug should be allowed to be sold in India unless it is listed on this site. The drug listed must include a breakup of the its components, and all competing brands of the same drug. Each brand should also list its price to allow comparisons. 

The other important thing is to list generic unbranded versions of the drugs as these will be the least expensive. To reduce fake drugs, every drug should also include the name of its original manufacturer, and the name of the marketer. This will help patients ensure they are buying their drugs from a reputed manufacturer.

Having such a site will allow anyone to compare all brands of any drugs by price. This will prevent us being overcharged, and also allow us to get the drug at the most economical rate in the market. It will even close loopholes like hospitals rebranding and selling the same drug at much higher prices.

Price control of drugs is an issue that affects all of us. The main reason hospitals and pharmacies are ripping us off is because the government is turning a blind eye to it. But if more of us raise their voices against it, the government will be forced to take action. I, therefore, request you to please sign this petition by clicking the button shown below. 

Here are a couple of links you can click on to know more about this issue.

Read about Aamir Khan’s initiative for low-cost generic drugs.

Learn how the health care industry is preying on us.



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