Chemotherapy drugs are, as a rule, very expensive and well out of the reach of the average middle-class patient. Combined with the costs of testing and radiation, medical care expenses can run over several lakhs of rupees that are not adequately covered by insurance companies. In this scenario, the patient has no choice but to get into debt. But, in today’s times, patients can check the various websites and look for more economical medicines online that have the same composition but are produced by local companies. Under the advice and guidance of their doctor, they can opt for these medicines that are easier on the pocket.
Activities of Indian Drug Price Regulating Agencies
In October 2014, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) removed the price control caps on 108 medicines that also included drugs used to fight cancer. However, beginning in May 2015, 12 important cancer-fighting drugs will be placed under the controlled price list by the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM). Accordingly, medicines like Letrozole for breast cancer, Zoledronic acid for multiple myeloma, Erlotinib for lung cancer and nine others will now be more accessible to patients.
India’s Efforts to Control Drug Prices
It is interesting to note, though, that the prices of most of the medicines that are produced by the innovating companies are very expensive as compared to their generic versions. India does not allow any of the international companies to patent their products in the country and this does help in controlling the prices in the country. Further, leading drug companies must have the mandatory licensing to produce the drugs and this allows other manufacturers to create and market generic versions that are more economical.
Comparative prices of Some Chemotherapy Drugs
|Name of the Medicine||Innovator Company Price||Indian Generic Price||Indian Name and Manufacturing Company|
|Temozolomide||Rs 2.16 lakh (Temodar by Merck)||Rs 20,000||Glioz by Dr. Reddy/ Temolon by Celon Labs/ Temoside by Cipla|
|Irinotecan||Rs 1.87 lakh (Camptosar by Pfizer)||Rs 25,000||Irinomil by Merck (India)/ Irnocam by Dr. Reddy/ Torsirin by Miracalus Pharma|
|Sorafenib (120 Tablets)||Rs 2.8 lakh (Nexavar by Bayer)||Rs 8,880||Soranib by Cipla/ Sorofenib tosylate by Natco Pharma|
|Trastuzumab/Herceptin||Rs 135200||Rs 75,000 (Herclon by Roche)||Canmab by Biocon|
|Docetax/ Taxane (120 mg)||Rs 14,000 (Docetaxel by Pfizer)||Rs 7,000||Docetaxel or Taxotere by Cipla|
|Rituximab (500 mg)||Approx. Double (Mabthera by Roche)||Rs. 40,000||Reditux by Dr. Reddy|
It is also common knowledge that Gleevec, a drug used for treating leukemia costs $70,000 per patient over a year. But, this medicine costs just $2,500 in India. All these facts and figures indicate that generic drugs are much more economical and just as effective. Accordingly, patients can request their doctor to prescribe the more generic medicines and save on the costs of chemotherapy drugs.