Chris' Original Blogbeque

A fresh, vinegar-based examination of life

drugs

Posted by Chris on October 10, 2007

Srijani is the locale where I live. It is in the area of Thakurpukur, of which Joka is the post (like zip code). I think that’s how it works. And all of this is still part of Kolkata. There is a cancer hospital here with a long name that is commonly known as Thakurpukur Cancer Hospital. While Srijani is a relatively small market, it has a high number of druggists/chemists due to the presence of the hospital. Even then, I was having problems finding the medicine I’ve been taking to prevent/fight malaria. Brand name is Lariam, and it is “mefloquine” and I know the quine part refers to being a derivative of quinine which for over 100 years now has been the drug of choice to fight the symptoms of malaria (I don’t think it actually does anything towards killing the virus or whatever it is). Maybe these new concontions also work towards preventing transmission.

Anyway, no luck finding lariam or mefloquine. Even with translation help. One place showed us in the book all the Indian drug names for mefloquine but they did not have nor would they order some because of whatever large quantity they would have to buy. Finally, at a larger market nearby, I got a substitute that is something like chloroquine. My friend who was helping me is a doctor and says this is a popular drug. So I feel fine about it.

Anyway, I was given a little pack of 10 pills wrapped in a scrap sheet of paper. No box, no instructions, no pill bottle, no prescription needed. Tina informs me that only a few drugs require prescriptions here by law. My ten pills? 5.6 rupees. That’s about 15 cents. I thought, maybe that’s for each pill. Or even, maybe that it said 560 rupees, 15 bucks. Still a great deal—Lariam cost me $10 each out of pocket (my insurance only covered for one month and I bought a few more as a buffer till I could find here). But no, 5.6 rupees total.

I already knew that there are many Indian companies making generics and I guess that what can produce such low prices. These companies have no R&D or marketing costs, the things that are so often ignored when US pharmaceutical companies are criticized. Anyway, that is by far the item which has the biggest relative price discount and is really not a benchmark you should use to compare the costs/standards of living.

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4 Responses to “drugs”

  1. Sheila Hargett said

    Very interesting! How long will the 10 pills last you?

  2. mom said

    I would also like to know how long they will last.

  3. BTira said

    I’m sure there is some type of govt regulation against this, so I’m probably going to sound silly… but why not have villagers buy these drugs and send them through the mail to other countries where the price is much higher. They’ve got to be able to make a nice profit. Sound much too easy, and probably illegal… but if India doesn’t require a prescription for many drugs, I have to imagine their laws regarding this type of trade may also be lax.

  4. yea i da know about that
    people do come here for surgeries i think
    i’m sure that to a certain extent this will begin to happen in certain ways… but you might not get the branded drugs– yo’ure not getting FDA approved, so some americans would be apprehensive.

    i bought cold medicine a couple days ago for 16 rupees for about 3 days worth… it’s working well it seems, so i might buy a pack or two extra.

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