The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, a regulatory body which determines the pricing of medicines and drugs to keep them affordable for the common user has come up with a convenient SMS based service with which they will be able to choose the cheapest brand of medicine prescribed by the doctors.
Under the service, a needy must send the brand name of a particular medicine through SMS on which he/she will be sent an SMS with a list of brands along with their prices so that he can choose amongst all the options.
There is a significant difference in the price of the costliest brand of a medicine and its cheapest alternative. A recent survey by NPPA found that prices of the expensive brands can be ten times higher than the cheapest alternative of the same medicine.
Drugs are not allowed to be advertised, so companies push their brands through doctors. There is a wide practice of companies giving gifts, sponsoring foreign trips and other incentives to doctors to prescribe their brands. Indian consumers are price-sensitive, but most are unaware they need not buy the costly brands prescribed by physicians. The purchase decision is made by their doctor.