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Times Of India
17 july 2012

Mumbai: Some good news for consumers might be at hand. You will soon be able to find the most affordable alternative to the medicine prescribed by your doctor through an SMS-based service. The service, expected to be launched by the government in August, will be available throughout the country.

Here is how it works: Once a person sends a text message of the prescribed brand of drug to a particular number from his mobile, he will receive two to three options of the same medicine, along with the price differential. Say, a patient is prescribed a popular anti-infective like Augmentin (GlaxoSmithKline).

He types in Augmentin and sends the SMS to the designated number. He will get a return SMS, possibly mentioning Moxikind CV (Mankind), which is substantially cheaper. But sources said all the responses would come with a caution: please consult the doctor before popping the alternative (pill).

Sometimes, the price differential between two alternatives of the same medicine is huge—up to 10-15 times. The new service seeks to address the issue. SMS scheme may cover 2/3rd of prescription mkt

Mumbai: The government plans to cover at least twothirds of the drugs prescription market through the SMS alternative suggestion scheme, which would include all widely used therapies like anti-infectives, painkillers, respiratory and gastro-intestinal drugs.

There would, however, be riders. The government will set in filters where options may not be available.

These would include cases where the person is suffering from serious ailments and certain lifestyle diseases like diabetes where the medicine and dose vary according to the person’s physiological conditions. Also, there could be riders specifying that the alternative offered has to be from large companies with a national presence.


Though consumers are price-sensitive, they may not be aware of cheaper options which exist for a particular drug. The SMS programme will aim to fill this gap. Industry sources said the contract for managing the service has been allotted to a Delhi-based firm, and the model for operating the service is being finalized.

However, similar consumer initiatives of the government in the past have not met with much success.

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