Despite Availability, Patients In India Lack Access to Medicines

Despite Availability, Patients In India Lack Access to Medicines

09.26.11 | By Jay Taylor

Last week, my colleague Grady Forrer wrote about non-communicable diseases, which are posing new and growing threats to the developing world, including countries like India.

Working in international advocacy, I see first-hand how these diseases - such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, lung diseases and mental illnesses - are increasingly leading to both social and economic burdens, despite being manageable with inexpensive, effective medicines.
A recent study, however, found that these medicines, many of which are readily available as generics, are grossly underutilized. This study, which sampled patients from around the world, revealed that in low-income countries, less than 20 percent of patients with cardiovascular disease were using these secondary prevention drugs, and less than 5 percent of patients in low-income countries were using either diuretics or statins available as generics.
What struck me most about this was that an overwhelming proportion of the sampled patients were from India, the world's biggest supplier of low-cost generic medicines.
Clearly, the low-cost, generic medicines that could help these patients stay healthy were not beyond reach.
Ultimately, the study was a reminder that in many low-and middle-income countries, inadequate distribution and lack of access are as much a barrier to health as the cost of care.
Jay Taylor is a Vice President of International at PhRMA.

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