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Availability of brands of six essential medicines in 124 pharmacies in Maharashtra

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Colin MillardORCiD, Professor Allyson PollockORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Background: The aim of this study is to assess the availability and rational use of six essential medicines in private retail outlets in Maharashtra state. The study focuses on the range of brands for each medicine, and the availability of these brands in the pharmacies. The medicines were chosen because they are included in the World Health Organization's (WHO) essential medicines list (EML), the Indian national and Maharashtra state medicines list, and are all included in existing Indian public health initiatives and national disease control programmes. Methods: Data was gathered on the availability of the medicines and the range and frequency of brands in 124 private retail pharmacies between January and May 2012. As there is currently no centralised database in India of available pharmaceutical brands, we collected data on the range of products of the 6 essential medicines available in the Indian market by consulting three open access Indian pharmaceutical databases, CIMS India, Medindia, and Medguide, and the commercial database, Pharmatrac; we compared this data with the results of the survey. The six essential medicines used in this study are: artemisinin (malaria), lamivudine (HIV/AIDS), rifampicin (tuberculosis control), oxytocin (reproductive health), fluoxetine (mental health) and metformin (diabetes). Results: The study found that for each of the selected medicines there were multiple approved products listed in Indian databases, 2186 in total. The Pharmatrac database lists only 1359 brands of the selected medicines; 978 (72%) of these had zero sales in 2011-2012. Our survey found very low availability of the brands: 17% Pharmatrac marketed brands (163/978) and 12% of all Pharmatrac brands (163/1359) were available. Metformin was the only medicine with high availability in the study pharmacies at 91%, Rifampacin was the second highest at 64.5%; the other four medicines were available in less than half the pharmacies. A small number of brands were dominating the market. Conclusion: the survey shows that market competition has generated a large number of brands of the six study medicines but this has not translated into sufficient availability of these medicines in the study pharmacies. The data calls for a review of available brands, taking into consideration levels of sale and grounds for approval, and the setting up of a centralised database of registered pharmaceutical products.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Millard C, Kadam AB, Mahajan R, Pollock AM, Brhlikova P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Global Health

Year: 2018

Volume: 8

Issue: 1

Print publication date: 01/06/2018

Acceptance date: 02/04/2016

Date deposited: 03/04/2018

ISSN (electronic): 2047-2986

Publisher: Global Health Society, University of Edinburgh


DOI: 10.7189/jogh.08.010402

PubMed id: 29423188


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