E-DRUG: For cheaper drug options, send SMS
[As many poor people now have a mobile phone, why not use the power of
SMS/text messaging to give consumers basic info about the drugs they are
being prescribed, the cost of the branded product and equivalent generics?
See the newspaper article below - this is an attempt to provide comparative
medicine prices information to the general public by the government of
A similar initiative seems to have been tried in 2009 in Indonesia - any
E-druggers who know what happened to that pilot?
Similar SMS efforts are being tested in Africa - any feedback from
The technology could of course also be used by the drug companies to market
their products and information (promotion).
Anyone of you has seen aspects of that? WB]
For cheaper drug options, send SMS
Rupali Mukherjee, TNN | Jul 17, 2012, 01.57AM IST
For cheaper drug options, send SMS
The government is expected to launch SMS service in August to suggest
cheapest drug option to patients.
MUMBAI: Some good news for consumers might be at hand. You would soon be
able to find the most affordable alternative to the medicine prescribed by
your doctor through an SMS-based service. The service, expected to be
launched by the government in August, will be available throughout the
Here is how it works: Once the person sends a text message of the prescribed
brand of drug to a particular number from his mobile, he will receive two to
three options of the same medicine, along with the price differential. Say,
a patient is prescribed a popular anti-infective like Augmentin
(GlaxoSmithKline). He types in Augmentin and sends the SMS to the designated
number. He would get a return SMS, possibly mentioning Moxikind CV
(Mankind), which is substantially cheaper. But sources said that all
responses would come with a caution: please consult the doctor before
popping the alternative (pill).
Sometimes, the price differential between two alternatives of the same
medicine is huge-up to 10-15 times.
"This service would help a patient choose the cheapest alternative
available," an industry source said.
The government plans to cover at least two-thirds of the prescription market
through this scheme, which would include all widely used therapies like
anti-infectives, painkillers, respiratory and gastro-intestinal drugs.
There would, however, be riders. The government will set in filters where
options may not be available. These would include cases where the person is
suffering from serious ailments, and certain lifestyle diseases like
diabetes where the medicine and dose vary according to the person's
physiological conditions. Also, there could be riders specifying that the
alternative offered has to be from large companies with a national presence.
Though consumers are price-sensitive, they may not be aware of cheaper
options which exist for a particular drug. The SMS programme will arm the
consumer with cheaper options.
Industry sources said the contract for managing the service has been
allotted to a Delhi-based firm, and the model for operating the service is
However, similar consumer initiatives of the government in the past have not
met with much success. A few years ago, the government had launched a 24x7
helpline where a consumer could complain of being overcharged by a chemist.
It also gave consumers information on essential medicines and their prices,
besides helping them locate a cheaper generic version if an expensive,
branded version had been prescribed.