The world’s most expensive drugs: India’s cheapest drug costs 1.4 times as much as the cheapest
India is now the most expensive country to buy prescription drugs, with the average cost of a month’s supply of the cheapest generic of $10,300, according to research by the Times of India.
The Times report said that, on the one hand, the cost of medicines in India is far less than that in the United States, where generic prices were more than two-and-a-half times the cost in 2017, and on the other, India’s pharmaceutical sector is among the most efficient.
The Times reported that generic prices in India have risen in the last decade by nearly 50 per cent from a peak of $13,000 in 2014.
The report also found that India’s prescription drug industry was facing a challenge in addressing the challenges posed by the increasing use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as well as antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile.
According to the Times report, India is the fifth-most expensive country for generic drugs globally, after the United Kingdom, China, France and Germany.
The Indian government has been trying to improve the availability of drugs, particularly in the healthcare sector, with a programme to launch a nationwide network of drug distribution centres.
India, the world’s third-largest economy, is also the world leader in the use of antibiotics, which has led to the emergence of antibiotic resistance.
The country has more than 4,000 antibiotics in use, according the World Health Organization, but the country is facing a growing challenge in controlling the spread of these superbugs, which have caused the death of more than 70,000 people since 2000.
In the last few years, a number of major companies in India, including generics manufacturer Janssen and generics maker Novartis, have faced criticism for their pricing practices.
In November, Jansens said it would stop selling the generic of the anti-parasitic drug dolutegravir.
India’s healthcare sector has seen a huge rise in antibiotic resistance, with drug prices rising more than 400 per cent between 2014 and 2018.
The report found that the average price of a generic of a given brand of the antibiotic dolutegera rose from $10.10 to $20.10 per 100 grams in the same period.
India is also facing the threat of a pandemic, with many people facing financial hardship, which could be exacerbated by the rising costs of medicines.
In November, the country reported a record 9.5 million cases of the flu, which affected 2.6 million people and killed almost 1.3 million people.
India is also at risk of a possible pandemic because of a shortage of oxygen and medicines, which are needed to revive patients, the Times said.