The Times of india, October 01, 2012

A prescription audit carried out by CUTS, a consumer movement society, revealed a shocking picture of irrational use of medicines by the city doctors. About 98.03% prescriptions were found to be irrational, while only 1.96% bore the testimony of rational use of drugs.

The survey revealed that most irrationally prescribed drugs were antibiotics, NSAIDs, PPI (proton pump inhibitors), H2 blockers, vitamins, antipsychotics and antihistaminic (allergic). The study, carried out in private hospitals and nursing homes, revealed that only a few hospitals had mechanisms for monitoring the compliance to rational use of drugs (RUD).

Such irrational use of drugs has long-lasting impact on human body, making it immune to the drug, particularly antibiotics, besides the side effects, said Prithviraj Nath of CUTS, who conducted the survey.

The study also laid bare the nexus between the doctors and pharmaceutical companies. Twenty out of 50 pharmaceutical firms were found to have sponsored events, workshops for doctors. The expenditure on gifts, seminars is added to the price of medicines. The study revealed that doctors often prescribe expensive medicines, in spite of availability of cheaper versions in the market.

Reacting to the survey, the minister of state for health Chandrima Bhattacharya, said, “The right to health is a fundamental right of every citizen of this country and no entity can infringe upon that right.” She added that from October 2, fifteen fair-price medicine shops will be operating to facilitate the sale of low-priced generic medicines to common people. “Eventually, there will be 35 such shops in the state,” she had said at a seminar jointly organized by CUTS and the department of health and family welfare recently.

Sanghamitra Ghosh, managing director, West Bengal Medical Services Corporation Ltd, expressed serious concern over pricing of medicines. “We have to be careful that high prices of medicines and services should not lead to oppression and exploitation, especially of the ordinary consumers.” She also stressed on the low awareness levels of most stakeholders and said that civil society should play an important role in improving the situation.

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