All about Medicines:
New age medical science has improved a lot more than older ages, and it still is improving. Medicines over the years have evolved from being mixtures of herbs in a liquid state to state-of-the-art drugs that can even cure diseases like Cancer and HIV. Though these medicines are important to curb an illness, that doesn’t mean it’s inexpensive. Every year thousands of tests are conducted, for that, manpower, knowledge and resources are essential. To get these amenities for experimentation, a lot of money is spent by the researchers. As a result, the pharmaceutical industry is more or less a commercial industry, and being commercial, there are a lot of fluctuations that can be seen in this field when it comes to spending money from a consumer’s point of view.
A drug might be the same, but the brands may differ completely. Because the common man doesn’t know what medicine is for what, the doctors are the eye-openers for people to buy medicines. Through interacting and researching, a person can get to know that the same type of drug can be sold for Rs. 20 or Rs. 200. This is because of the simple concept of commercialism.
The pharmaceutical industry depends heavily on profit, and it has been observed that some pharmaceutical companies take a 90% profit margin from their products. The factors that are responsible for the vast price difference is mere, the brand name, the researching company and the generic brands that follow the lead.
Research & Development:
Unlike the generic manufacturer, the original pharmaceutical company spends a lot of time, effort, and monetary funds into Research and Development (R&D). When the drug is disclosed to the public, it usually has a patent of around 20 years. After the patent expires, any pharma company is allowed to manufacture and sell the products with comparatively fewer efforts and cost. Drugs manufactured under such conditions are known as generic drugs, and the company that creates these generic drugs is known as a generic company, where very less investment is gone into research and development and also limited drug discovery.
With lower R&D, the manufacturers can make the drugs at a much cheaper cost of production, and sell the same at a lower price than the price charged during the patent period. Theoretically, in the pharma industry, price changes over time and is competitive in nature, while being determined by market forces and hence correct with time.
The second kind to gain maximum profit is known brands that earn majorly because of their reputation. Brands sell the same drug at a higher price because of the customer loyalty & trust. Brand Managers know that people will buy their drugs just because of the trust. When it comes to the components of both the type of drugs, it is completely the same.
In a recent study by the University of Cincinnati published in Neurology, two supposedly similar medications were given to subjects with Parkinson’s disease. They were told that the first was more expensive, and the second was similar in effectiveness but, because of differences in manufacturing, was much cheaper. The final result concluded 28% improved motor skill among patients as compared to the first one. The one fact that the patients weren’t told: Both shots were actually the saline solution!
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Medicines & Brand:
Study authors believe patients got better because they had very high expectations, which translated into health benefits. Psychological factors play an important role in the commercialism of medicines. The factor that plays a huge role is the people’s perspective on the drug and its brand in this situation. But can the companies charge so much even though medicines are for people’s well-being? Legally, yes, but ethically, maybe but more likely no.
The generic and branded drug companies also have a huge difference between their scale and marketing potential. Manufacturing of a salt may be done by a single company but could be marketed under different brands. These brand, later spend massively on marketing their drugs. They associate with doctors to prescribe their brand. Brands also establish a profitable distribution channel for everyone in the pyramid of sales.
Some of the cheaper generic medicines in India may not be considered safe for consumption until and unless the manufacturer practices the relevant compliances like GMP, GDP & GSP. We do not mean that the big brands that practices and pass through all the compliances are safe enough. Branded medicine will be twice the cost of generic, yet they have the same active ingredient. A recent study by Matthew Gentzkow of the University of Chicago found that physicians and pharmacists prefer the generic versions more. This makes us come to a conclusion that generic drugs, generally, are of the same quality as name brands.
In a report published by The British Medical Journal, it was found that branding on drugs had an effect on headache relief – a placebo effect. A placebo effect is a psychological phenomenon, where the patient is healed not by the actual treatment but by his/her personal expectation. Not only this, the placebo effect works the double in children. For example, if we give a child a sugar pill, telling that it’s a medicine to heal his/her mild stomach pain, the child will psychologically accept the medicine and will be perfectly fine in most of the cases!
This effect is all in our minds!
Be Healthy, Be Happy!
Article Credits: Hafsa Zamindar | Mumbai | India