The prices of medicines have an impact on affordability and, therefore,
access to essential medicines. In India, individuals have to bear the full cost
of their medicines since medicines are not subsidized through social insurance.
High prices and low availability are major barriers to the use of medicines and
better health, yet little is known about the prices that people pay for
medicines in low- and middle-income countries. This study was undertaken to
access the prices and availability of essential medicines in Rajasthan – one of
the largest states of India.
The survey was undertaken in accordance with a methodology described in the manual entitled “Medicine Prices – a new approach to measurement,” published by
the World Heath Organization and Health Action International (WHO/HAI, 2003). In the public sector, lowest priced generic equivalents were predominantly
The survey measured the price and availability of a basket of essential
medicines. It demonstrates that the Government of Rajasthan is procuring
medicines at a reasonable price for a few categories of patients who are
entitled to obtain free medicines in public sector facilities. However, overall
availability was low. Therefore, most of the population has to purchase
medicines from private pharmacies. In the private sector, the availability of
generics was high but about half of the medicines surveyed were expensive (more
than twice the IRP). The availability of anti-HIV/AIDS medicines was very low in
all three sectors surveyed. Treatment regimens for a selection of conditions
were affordable for the lowest paid government worker, but a large proportion of
the population earns much less.