From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Nothing much
Mains level : Medicines use in India
The Indian government is planning to allow local retail outlets to sell common drugs.
- As per the proposal, the Centre would let regular shops retail over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol.
- These drugs would contain key information on side effects and the appropriate dosage in local languages.
- Geographical reach – The wide availability of these medicines would offer relief to people living in far-flung areas where pharmacies are few and far between.
- Issue of self-medication – In India, self-medication is highly prevalent, particularly in rural areas. If non-prescription drugs can be bought at a local corner shop, it could help lower treatment costs for millions of people who have no chemist closeby.
- Doctor availability – There aren’t enough qualified doctors in the country. Reports suggest that about two-thirds of all doctors in India cater to urban areas. Going to a doctor proves to be time-consuming and expensive for rural folks.
- Regulation – It is alarming for those who insist on strict regulation of who is allowed to dispense medicines.
- Health hazard – The popping of pills without any medical authorization or knowledge could pose an immediate health risk.
- Overuse – Easy availability could also result in an overuse of some over-the-counter drugs, compromising people’s health over a longer span of time. This has already happened in the case of antibiotics, whose rampant overuse has turned several strains of disease-causing bacteria resistant to these drugs.
- Greater concerns – Given the ground conditions in India, the benefits could outweigh those worries.