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Acute shortage of life-saving drugs of GSK and Pfizer adversely affecting patients across the country

Laxmi Yadav, Mumbai
Monday, March 26, 2018, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

There is an acute shortage of different life-saving drugs of GlaxoSmithkline (GSK) and Pfizer across the country which has been adversely affecting the ailing community over the last six months while, surprisingly, there is least information to the concerned administration and departments about this crisis.

Life-saving drugs of GSK such as Grisovin FP tablet, Betnesol AMP, Cetzine tablet, Zupar tablet, Zentel tablet, Betnovate, N, C, GM and Pfizer's life saving drugs-- Terramycin 250, 500, SF, cap, Wymox 250 are in short supply in the country. These life-saving drugs are under National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM).

It is learnt that GSK has initiated upgradation of its Nashik unit to expand its portfolio of thyroid and dermatology products thus leading to decline in its usual production. The second plant of the company at Vemgal, Karnataka is yet to become functional.

As per Drugs and Cosmetics Act, a manufacturer undertaking modification or upgradation of its plant needs to inform the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) and the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) about possible shortage of drugs produced at the plant in anticipation due to modification or upgradation work so that the government can take suitable action to improve the availability of these drugs. But GSK has not done so.

On the other hand, the company is taking advantage of shortage of these life-saving drugs to push the company's other medicines which are not in demand as a substitute.

Said Rajesh Soni from Chemist and Druggist Association, Khaga, Uttar Pradesh, “It is very difficult for a chemist to substitute a demand of specific brand of any advice memo of the patients comparing the quality of brands of the alleged company. Despite having lacuna and shortfalls in regular services, GSK's CFAs in Uttar Pradesh are consistently dumping different brands of their company at various drug stores alluring them with the saga of monopolistic practice and dealings which is unfair.”

As per the law, a company cannot indulge in such rogue practice. It can ration the supply of drugs to parts of the country as per patients' demand in the wake of short supply of its medications due to modification work at a plant, said Joydeep Sarkar, general secretary of All India Chemists and Distributors Federation (AICDF).

He said besides the shortage of above life-saving drugs of GSK in the country, there is a short supply of the company's anti rabies vaccine 'Rabipur' to government hospitals causing hardship to a significant number of patients.

He added that last year AstraZeneca's drugs were in short supply due to modification work at its manufacturing plant.

Shortage of Pfizer's life-saving drugs could be attributed to the company's low production since the medications came under price control as it has affected the company's profitability, said Sarkar.

After the Wymox has come under NLEM, distributors/dealers are facing shortage of the product. The company is not getting much profitability hence it has reduced manufacturing of the medicine, said a dealer.

Said Soni “Over the last six months the concerned regional officials of both companies are deliberately and purposefully dumping unwanted brands at various chemists while gray marketing of the scared, short brands through certain unauthorised dealers cannot be ruled out. We are following the involvement of most of the regional employees of the manufacturers in such misdealing for which common people are not getting those life-saving brands of GSK like Grisovin FP tablet, Betnesol AMP, Cetzine tablet, Zupar tablet, Zentel tablet, Betnovate, N, C, GM at an affordable price and Pfizer's life-saving brands-- Terramycin 250, 500, SF, cap, Wymox 250 and Corex DX syrup at an affordable price.”

Taking serious note of this, we have written to Uttar Pradesh FDA and NPPA urging them to intervene in this issue by taking necessary action against the offenders and culprits to eradicate all such misdealing with essential commodities like medicine, he added.

When contacted Javed Siddiqui. National Sales Manager at GSK said “We continue to supply life-saving drugs pan India. There is no shortfall in distribution of any GSK drug.”

Ramesh Chandra, Pfizer distribution head said he is not aware about shortfall in distribution of any of the company's product.


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