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Millennium Post

Lives over prices

Serum Albumin, the critical life saving drug has vanished from the medicine markets of the nation. What is interesting is, that this is not the first time a life saving drug has suddenly disappeared leaving patients lodged in critical care units on the brink of death. Last year, India faced a similar situation when supplies of the HIV-AIDS treating antiretroviral drugs were halted after the procuring agency National Aids Control Organisation failed to clear payments of pharmaceutical companies.

This time however, the drug has suspiciously been made to leave the shelves of various medicine retailers and wholesalers in an apparent bid to make the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority take cognisance of its actions after it slashed the prices of 50 ml and 100 ml Albumin vials from Rs 6,500 to Rs 4,000 and from Rs 2,500 to Rs 1,600. The pharmaceutical companies clearly know the importance of a drug as vital as Serum Albumin and that is precisely the reason why patients suffering from critical medical issues have been taken hostage in such a brazen manner. Isn’t this cartelisation? There exists an unholy nexus between pharma companies and pharmacies, resulting in hoarding of such critical medicines.

People in power have failed to acknowledge the crisis at hand but that should not deter us from terming this unfortunate episode as another case of illegal hoarding, which has duly been outlawed by the Essential Articles (Price Control and Anti-Hoarding) Act, 1953. Isn’t a life saving drug an essential commodity, the supplies of which need to be fittingly maintained? Perhaps the drug lobby is more powerful and wrests more influence in this country of 1.2 billion than a democratically elected government. We don’t need excuses that the former regime must be blamed for this too. We demand action.
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