The politics of essential medicines

What are Essential Medicines? What do they mean to a country and to communities all over the world? And more interestingly, can there be politics on this simple and innocuous list? Essential Medicines, as per the World Health Organisation (WHO), are those that satisfy the priority health needs of most people in the community. They are intended to be available within the context of functioning health systems at all times in adequate amounts, in the appropriate dosage forms, with assured quality and adequate information, and at a price the individual and the community can afford.

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Shocking corruption in drug companies

Drug companies bribe doctors directly so their medicines are more likely to be prescribed. GlaxoSmithKline or GSK, the seventh largest drug manufacturing company in the world with a total revenue of US$ 36,566 million in 2015, pleaded guilty to unlawful promotion of a drug by name paroxetine for depression among children below 18 years of age. GSK knew well from its own studies that when the drug is administered to children below 18 years it can actually increase the incidence of suicide in children. Pleading guilty of its misdeed, GSK paid $3 billion, the largest healthcare fraud settlement in the US history, to resolve its criminal liability.

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NHRC to hear patients’ complaints against hospitals

For the first time, the human rights commission will hear grievances that patients and their relatives have against private hospitals. The first of six such hearings, which are scheduled across the country over the next six months (see box), will be on January 6 and 7, at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Deonar. About 115 complaints—against both public and private hospitals in Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat and Rajasthan—will be heard by members of the National Human Rights Commission.

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Dissenting doctors seek cleansing of greedy medical practice

A patient sought a second opinion for an existing heart problem and was again unnecessarily subjected to all the investigations that had been earlier done during the first consultation. On enquiry, the patient was consoled that this is all just a ‘routine matter’ in every hospital and that is how it works. This has been the experience of most patients that have utilised the dominant private health provider in India.

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