Affordable medications in India


Fam Pract Manag. 2006 Sep;13(8):16-24.

Dr. Richard Sagall’s article “Can Your Patients Afford the Medications You Prescribe?” [April 2006] reminded me that the rising cost of medical treatment is an issue with patients and physicians throughout the world. As a family physician working with the urban poor in India, I face this issue every day. I am fortunate to have cheap, reliable generic drugs for many conditions; the cost of 50 mg of atenolol is one cent!

I used to work in a hospital that required the doctors to write the cost of the drugs we prescribed on the side of the prescription for the purpose of easier billing. We knew the cost of all the drugs that we prescribed. Now I work in a hospital that does not require me to do that, but the experience helps me keep tabs on the cost of the drugs I prescribe. We help our patients get their medications in two ways:

  1. We refer them to the nearby government hospital for the drugs. These hospitals are terribly overcrowded and understaffed, but the patients manage to get free drugs even though they may not be examined. Then we follow up with the patients in our practice.

  2. We write prescriptions for longer periods whenever possible. Most of our patients are laborers who do not have enough money to buy drugs for a long period, but this approach enables them to buy drugs for a short period and then buy more later without seeing the doctor first.

As family physicians, we offer the most cost-effective care to our patients. It is important that the cost is controlled not just by the judicious use of drugs, but also by the practice of clinical medicine that focuses on a good history, physical examination and appropriate use of investigations.


Send your comments to fpmedit@aafp.org. Submission of a letter will be construed as granting AAFP permission to publish the letter in any of its publications in any form. We cannot respond to all letters we receive. Those chosen for publication will be edited for length and style.


Copyright © 2006 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact fpmserv@aafp.org for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions


May-Jun 2019

Access the latest issue
of FPM journal

Read the Issue

FPM E-Newsletter

Sign up to receive FPM's free, weekly e-newsletter, "Quick Tips & Insights."

Sign Up Now


Improving Influenza Vaccination Rates

Here's what you need to know to increase the influenza vaccination rate in your practice.