|A dedicated web-based redress mechanism has been set up for consumers facing shortage of medicines or being overcharged by pharmacists. ‘Pharma Jan Samadhan’ promises response within 48 hours of a complaint and a consumer can lodge a complaint along with the medical bill if they are over-charged for medicines or can inform the government directly in case of shortage of medicines. Beginning with a web facility, the government plans to launch a mobile application for the same once it is equipped with a database on drug prices. The move, initiated by the department of pharma under the ministry of chemicals & fertilizers, is in line with the government’s egovernance initiatives. “The National Pharma Pricing Authority (NPPA) has been searching for a weapon against black marketing and spurious medicines, and this portal will help them in that endeavour,” said the minister for chemicals and fertilizers Ananth Kumar. He emphasized the need for pharma literacy in the country, especially at the end-user level.In the absence of wherewithal, NPPA, which regulates prices as well as availability of medicines, has been struggling to monitor markets, especially in rural and distant villages. Also, since the pharmaceutical industry is extremely fragmented, absence of a proper data base makes it difficult for the regulator to keep a tab on price movements in the market. The government is now also working to create an integrated database for all medicines available in the market.
This would mean that companies will have to register their products with NPPA and provide the regulator and the government regular update on production and prices of these products. According to a senior official, over 40,000 products have already been registered and the government is aiming to launch the database by May. “The database is important to strengthen monitoring and redress of complaints Unless we fix the back-end system, the scheme cannot be successful,” the official said.