Costly medicines? You can still save money.

Ever wondered why your doctor prescribes medicine of a specific brand when similar Imagemedicine from other brands is available at a much lesser price?

There are a couple of reasons.

One, most doctors are bonded to specific medical companies and their brands through various free give- aways they receive from these companies which include free samples, gifts, foreign trips, sponsorships to seminars etc. Further medical representatives keep a tab on the way doctors prescribe through the neighborhood medical shops. So doctors do not want to prescribe other brands for the fear of loosing various sops.

Other reason is that today doctors are less concerned about wholesome benefit for their patients, which includes not only their physical health but financial health also. Instead of doing some research about low cost but effective medication, they take the easy way out as finally it the patient who is at the receiving end.

I do not imply at all doctors act in this fashion but many do. I salute those doctors who still treat their patients as a human and act with real care and compassion.

Recently when faced with a similar situation I spoke with my doctor about the low cost (normally called ‘generic medicine’) medicine. While his response was on predictive lines, my take away from this interaction is as follows:

1. Doctors assume that big pharmaceutical companies, which mostly are MNCs (well advertised brands) will have better quality medicines as compared to Indian companies even if Indian companies are also large in size and are operating for a long time in the country.
2. Doctors do not want to experiment with low cost medicines.. There is no incentive for them for doing so.
3. Even when your doctor is unwilling to prescribe a low cost medicine, you can still go for such medicine if the manufacturer is well know. Just for example Pfizer versus Ajanta Pharma or Dr. Reddy’s Lab.

If your doctor is not willing to change the brand and you are ready to take a calculated risk then you can go for lower cost drugs manufactured by known companies and try them out for a reasonable period. If they work it is good for you but if they don’t (there is hardly any reason for this happening), you still have the option to switch to the costlier brand.  This approach should work well for those on long term medication for the so called life style deceases like BP, Cholesterol control and Diabetes. The underlying assumption is that just because a company is Indian and not a MNC, it does not cast any shadow on drug quality. In fact, India today is considered as world’s pharmacy and is one of the leading low cost drug providers to the world.

Here I recollect the example of ‘Cipla’ which slashed their cancer drug prices by as much as 75% forcing other drug companies to follow suit and reduce their astronomical profits.

There are a large no. of pharmaceutical companies in India who spend less on marketing, produce quality drugs which are out of patent and hence can sell them at a much lower price. If one is interested here is a web site (http://www.medguideindia.com) which provides a lot of information about drugs, their manufactures and prices.

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