Increasing medical professional charges fuelling OTC drug sale

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New Delhi, May 8 (UNI) The ever increasing medical professional charges has fuelled an excessive desire for self-medication in the country with over the counter (OTC) drug sale growing by about 10 per cent in the last two years.

According to Assocham's latest OTC Drug Sale Pattern study, the share of sale of OTC traditional drugs in the country has gone up to 30 per cent as against of cold and cough medicines, 12 per cent of vitamins and about seven per cent of analgesics.

The country has overtaken US and China, where OTC drug sale is estimated at 4-5 per cent respectively.

''The maximum number of OTC drugs sold by qualified chemists and pharmacists are from the branded company like Pfizer, the share of which is estimated at about eight per cent, followed by Sanofi-Aventis seven per cent, Johnson&Johnson 5.5 per cent and remaining percentage is sold off through others,'' Assocham President Venugopal N Dhoot said.

He added that the main reasons as to why OTC drugs (which fall under the category of Scheduled H of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and can be sold without prescriptions from qualified doctors) are increasing is because most of common masses avoid consulting private medical practitioners because of their high professional fees and that's why resort to self prescription.

''Secondly, the faith of most of the masses is increasingly reviving in traditional ayurvedic medicines which are easily available with druggists, pharmacists and even special retailers including super markets and hyper markets. Thirdly, OTC drugs advertisements often appear in electronics and print because it is legally permitted which easily influence a large number of people to go in for them for maintaining their interiors and exteriors in terms of vitamins in take,'' added the ASSOCHAM Chief.

India's OTC drugs market was close to around 6 per cent about two years ago, as against less than 2 per cent of US and around 3 per cent of China.

''The OTC drugs in India are quite common because the population of pharmists and chemists have exceeded over 8.5 lakhs. The OTC drugs sale would further get enhanced as their sales are now being permitted through various post offices and groceries stores and retail outlets,'' the report said.

Currently, OTC drugs are sold off in larger percentage of over 37 in urban areas and their penetration in the rural market is around 10 per cent which will go up many fold as OTC drugs availability would grow in countryside at much faster speed.

The Chamber is of the view that the key players that will emerge for further intensifying drug sales, marketing will include FMCG firms, advertisement and media firms, nurses, NGOs and pharmists to communicate about their effectiveness to rural masses in future.

''In India, the awakening levels of modern medicines has gone up to 35 per cent which use to be less than 20 per cent around 2000 and this amounts to increased sale of OTC drugs. As far as the number of qualified doctors are concerned, these include about 6.5 lakh, 20 per cent of which serve the rural masses by most of the times, recommending to their patients intake of OTC drugs because of non-availability of much more effective drugs which generally are in paucity in the countryside,'' the report added.

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