Wednesday, July 30

A Small Step For A Healthier India

India's healthcare sector has been growing rapidly and is estimated to be worth US$ 40 billion by 2012, according to Pricewaterhouse Coopers in its report, 'Healthcare in India: Emerging market report 2007'. The number of patients visiting India for medicare has risen incredibly due to a combination of experienced physicians, lower cost, rising number of super specialty hospitals and world class care provided.

But what do we lack in our health care sector?

Though the prospect for healthcare looks great, I feel that we lack in general awareness. I think the pharmaceutical companies see Indian market as out dated. India has become a dumping ground for banned drugs and also a production unit for banned drugs.

We can see many banned drug in US and UK easily available and prescribed by physicians. Let me quote an example, PHENYLPROPANOLAMINE. I know majority of the people just know the brand name, so I will quote that. (Vicks Action 500 is the brand name of a combination medicine that contains: paracetamol 500 mg + phenylpropanolamine (PPA) 25 mg + caffeine 32 mg per tablet. Paracetamol is a pain-killer while PPA is a decongestant and D,Cold). On 6 November 2000 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a "Public Health Advisory" statement notifying that it was "taking steps to remove phenylpropanolamine from all drug products and has requested that all drug companies discontinue marketing products containing phenylpropanolamine". The statement followed advice from the FDA's Non-prescription Drugs Advisory Committee that there is an association between phenylpropanolamine and haemorrhagic stroke and that phenylpropanolamine was not considered safe. The FDA advised that the risk of haemorrhagic stroke was "very low" but there were significant concerns because of the seriousness of a stroke and the inability to predict who was at risk.

As I am living in India, I know majority of us take this medicine when we have cold and headache. What is worrying is that this drug can be bought off the counter without even a prescription. To add to that the drug is advertised on prime time television without even a mention about the side effects. The medical community is also guilty of prescribing these unsafe medicines. If I quote the medicines that are banned in other countries but are available in India, I will have a long list.

So, I request everyone to check the content of the drug you take and have a general idea about it. Also spread information about the dangerous side effects. Be bold to tell your physician that you had read about the side effects. You might provide the physician with an information that he wasn’t aware of’ thus saving the lives of many others. If not, you would have at least prompted the physician to be careful and not take advantage of a patient’s ignorance. Your questions might change the fate of many others!!



  1. I frankly think that expecting majority of people in India to read about their medicine and check its content is too big an ask. However, this is where the government can step in, tighten regulation, punish erring doctors who prescribe such banned medicine, impose heavy fines on medical stores that sell these over the counters without prescription. But I guess most of the readers would dismiss this as wishful thinking.

  2. There is a serious problem of vast usage and manufacturing of banned drugs (outside the country) in India. There are drugs like Nimesulide that are otherwise banned in the US but frequently available and prescribed drug in our country. There is also a serious problem of manufacturing of fake drugs here in India, numerous fake firms have been located, but most still run unaltered. It is time for the authorities to intervene, already a majority of the public has shifted faith to Homeopathy and ayurveda, and soon if things aren't put right, things may become worse for public health.

  3. Hi Dhanya,ur article is too gud..ppl shd hve knowledge abt the drugs dey take,sometimes my innocent mom hesitates to take me, wen she goes for her regular check up, she thinks dat the doc may get frustrated,feel bad n may not treat properly, if I question the doc abt side effects of any drug he prescribes...but now she understands the concern behind dat...we need not question the doc unnecessarily..but asking the doc abt any drug wen it is needed is rightful...


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