(2003; 41 pages)
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 found.
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.