In this episode of the State of the Economy podcast, Jayasree K. Iyer, CEO, Access to Medicine Foundation, talks to businessline’s Jyothi Datta on the state of generic drug accessibility. The foundation recently released a report highlighting the need for improved access to generic drugs, which are more affordable alternatives to innovative medicines. 

The report emphasises that generic drug manufacturers must not rest on their laurels but instead work to make drugs more accessible. It points out that 90% of medicines classified as essential by the World Health Organisation fall under the category of generics, including treatments for various critical conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and more. However, there is a global shortage of generic medicines, preventing millions of people from accessing essential medications. 

One reason for this inaccessibility is the failure of drug makers to register their products in low and middle-income countries. This oversight can result from assumptions that other generic manufacturers are already present, low returns on investment, and a focus on high-income markets like the US and Europe. The report suggests that manufacturers have the potential to expand their reach in these countries, making essential drugs available to more populations. 

The episode also discusses adaptive research, specifically in pediatric medicines. Generic companies are engaging in research and development to tailor products to the needs of people in low and middle-income countries. These adaptations aim to improve adherence and make medicines more accessible. Furthermore, patient assistance programs are essential to expanding access to medicines. These programs focus on diseases treated in specialized hospitals and ensure that the cost of treatment remains affordable for patients. 

The episode also explores issues of quality control and trust in the Indian pharmaceutical industry following incidents of contaminated cough syrups. It emphasises the need for stricter adherence to good manufacturing practices and upgrading manufacturing facilities to ensure product quality. The podcast addresses the current global crises, including wars, energy shortages, and climate change, all of which intensify the need for essential medicines. 

(Host: Jyothi Datta, Producers: Anjana PV & Siddharth Mathew Cherian)

About the State of the Economy podcast

India’s economy has been hailed as a bright spot amid the general gloom that seems to have enveloped the rest of the world. But several sectors continue to stutter even as others seem set to fire on all cylinders. To help you make sense of the bundle of contradictions that the country is, businessline brings you podcasts with experts ranging from finance and marketing to technology and start-ups