Do more to enlighten public on use of original and generic medicines

That the cost of medicare in Kenya is high is not in doubt, and mainly because medication is overpriced. This is done either by private medicare providers whose main aim is profits or due to high taxation, which, ironically can be blamed on the government.

Kenya’s public healthcare system is ailing but the situation can be made better if only the government can improve the public healthcare system and thus reduce the need to rely on profit merchants.

One of the reasons why the cost of healthcare is beyond the reach of millions of Kenyans is the price of drugs; and if this comes down, then more people can be covered, and it might take a shorter time to achieve Universal Health Care which at the moment is a dream.

Drugs are costly because many of them are branded, or are originals, in layman’s language, and the main reason is the mark-up by pharmaceutical firms who have to get their pound of flesh because of their expenditure on research and development.

While branded drugs are good, with a major side effect being the damage they do to the pocket, they are not the only option as their younger kin, generics, are equally effective and do not hurt the pocket.

We would chance to write that generics are the future for developing countries even though developed countries are embracing them, and their public health insurance providers not only encourage doctors to prescribe them, but stipulate that patients who want the costlier originals pay out of their pockets.

Generic medications are neither inferior nor counterfeit; they are just less costlier versions of the parent drug and their efficacy have been proven in countries whose healthcare systems are considered the best.

Nearer home, generic anti-retrovials (ARVS) have reduced the cost of managing HIV and Aids from about Sh1 million per year to about Sh20,000 and increased the number of people living with HIV and Aids who are on ARV therapy. And that is just one perfect example.

As a developing country with a nascent healthcare system, we should enlighten citizens more on the use of original and generic drugs to clear lingering doubts.

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