We already knew it was happening. Now there’s data to show us how pervasive it is.
A large-scale physician and chemist census across India’s top 120 cities and towns by Mumbai-based market research and consultancy firm IMS Health has found that non-M.B.B.S doctors i.e. doctors who don’t hold a degree in medicine accounted for 16 per cent of the total doctor universe that practices allopathy or modern medicine.
These doctors are qualified in alternative systems of medicine such as Ayurveda and Homeopathy but 40 per cent or more of their prescriptions are made up of allopathic drugs such as antiobiotics and painkillers. The census covered over 3,73,000 doctors across the country.
The findings highlight, once again, the need for proactive policy-making to effectively harness and regulate this workforce to shore up the quality and availability of healthcare delivery in under-served areas.
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At a recent press conference to announce the launch of its vaccine Prevenar 13, Pfizer MD Kewal Handa declined to share revenue numbers of the vaccine’s predecessor Prevenar in India. That’s not surprising – companies rarely reveal internal numbers for specific products. But what was surprising is that it did not provide ORG-IMS numbers either. The reason the company cited: ORG-IMS audits are not set up to capture vaccines data especially since these are bought directly by doctors or hospitals from stockists. Hence, they said, it would not be accurate.
Now if companies won’t reveal their numbers, and the only available database in the country isn’t good enough then does this mean we will never know how big the private vaccines market in India is? Vaccines after all are a high growth sector. Globally more money is going into vaccine research and development than before. And India’s baby cohort and growing middle-class mean that it’s a potentially large market for these companies. Surely there has to be a way?