Pharma company creating artificial shortage of drug, allege rights groups

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The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled has accused a pharmaceutical company of creating an artificial shortage of Desferal drug which is administered to Thalassemia Major patients to remove excess iron that accumulates in the bodies of persons who undergo regular blood transfusion.  

In a letter addressed to the Union Health and Family Welfare and Chemicals and Chemicals and Fertilisers Ministers, the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled has drawn the attention towards the tragic plight of patients with Thalassemia Major due to the non-availability of the drug.

We have received reports from various parts of the country, especially from Karnataka and Delhi about the non-availability of the drug. The lives of thousands of Thalassemics who have to undergo regular blood transfusions are in danger. If the drug is not taken regularly, the excess iron that gets accumulated can damage vital organs. Some patients require at least three vials every day, the letter said.

""You may be aware that Novartis has a virtual monopoly, being the only company that is manufacturing and supplying the drug in India. Thalassemics dependent on Desferal in Bengaluru have reported that they have been facing a shortage for nearly a year, which has become more acute in the past one month or so.

Even Thalassaemia societies in some cities who buy it directly from the manufacturer, Novartis, and pass on the drug to the patients are left without stocks now,’’ the letter said.

Though there is an alternative available in the form of chelation, this has been found to be not suitable to all those who undergo regular transfusions, the letter has pointed out, adding that despite the company claiming that they have enough stocks, it seems an artificial shortage has been created.

Seeking urgent intervention of the government to see that the lives of thousands of Thalassemics are not put in danger due to the non-availability of this drug, the National platform has asked the two Ministers to see that adequate supply of this life saving drug to those in need is ensured.

Also, the Ministries should proceed against those responsible for creating this artificial shortage. Nobody can be permitted to exploit such situations for pecuniary benefits while endangering precious lives, the letter said.

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