India to give free generic drugs to hundreds of millions 印度將免費提供學名藥給數億人民

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 - Page 10

India has put in place a US$5.4 billion (NT$157.6 billion) policy to provide free medicine to its people.

From city hospitals to tiny rural clinics, India’s public doctors will soon be able to prescribe free generic drugs to all comers, vastly expanding access to medicine in a country where public spending on health was just US$4.50 per person last year.

Under the plan, doctors will be limited to a generics-only drug list and face punishment for prescribing branded medicines, a major disadvantage for pharmaceutical giants in one of the world’s fastest-growing drug markets.

“Without a doubt, it is a considerable blow to an already beleaguered industry, “ said KPMG partner Chris Stirling.

But the initiative would overhaul a system where healthcare is often a luxury, despite 40 percent of the people living below the poverty line, or US$1.25 a day or less.

Within five years, up to half of India’s 1.2 billion people are likely to take advantage of the scheme, the government says. Others are likely to continue visiting private hospitals and clinics, where the scheme will not operate.