Let Systems Work

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There has been a lot of hue and cry over the marketing and distribution of spurious drugs through state run health services. These zero-potency ‘drugs’ purchased by the state government should essentially trigger a major shift in the way taxpayer’s money is spent to create a larger crisis for a common man. Tragically, there has not been anything major happening after the racket was detected, and reported. There is not a criminal case registered in this regard which speaks volumes about how the governing structures think about the people they are supposed to represent and protect.

People are genuinely concerned. While Kashmir is witnessing immense morbidity to an extent that there are certain disease which look like an epidemic, a public discourse is yet to start about why this is happening in Kashmir and why some of the problem can not be prevented, if not actually cured. Health sector in Kashmir is in such a crisis that its magnitude is yet to be fully known. If we have very “special” drugs being supplied to Kashmir hospitals exclusively, it is going to be tragic in coming days.

The reaction is understandable. A civil society group that has been working more as an advocacy platform on energy sector and some other issues, actually was in the forefront to seek action against those involved in the drug-supplying-mafia. They had an impressive public protest only forgetting that they had worked on numbers and not the quality of the people who should have came on streets against the drug mafia.

Kashmir being one of the major markets for pharma sector, the fake drug crisis – though not the first one, is alarming. Almost everybody is talking about the possible remedies. There are thousands of voices from different sections of the society. A section is blaming the chemists for the mess and another section holds doctors responsible and lot many think weak monitoring systems is the culprit because it has been destroyed by the political executive.

But quite a few people talk in terms of existing ground realities. Prescriptions induced by gifts and influence is an old story. Stockiest are performing better with drugs having better margins is also nothing new. These situations will sustain even if drug policy – do we have one right now? – is changed.

In this situation, there is only one way out. In an open market economy, give consumer the rights that he or she has. Let the system improve to a level that a consumer must get quality product for the money he spends. There has to be tough regulatory system to permit a drug to enter J&K market. Tragically, the system exists for cars but not for drugs. The system must ensure two basics in every new drug – price and quality. Once the policy makers are satisfied on these accounts, let market economy takeover. And let this be the guiding principle for every product.

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