A problematic pill

A problematic pill

As soon as India got the waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group, political analysts got busy trying to foresee how India’s entry into the club of nuclear nations would affect our relationships with existing partners. Another key event being closely followed is the US Presidential elections scheduled for November. At a recent CII meeting, Ambassador Frank G Wisner, Vice Chairman, American International Group spoke on how both Washington and New Delhi would have to spend time deciding future steps ahead and decide priorities after the elections. He was of the view that India would not face any fundamental obstacles from either a Republican or Democrat President. Elections in India are also around the corner and this too will need to be factored into the new equations.

Express Pharma initiates a discussion on this topic, because some industry sources are apprehensive about how the two US parties will shape healthcare reforms and deal with Indian pharmaceutical players having major interests in the US. Senator McCain has been known to target US pharma, and is in favour of reimportation of drugs from Canada as well as scaling back the Medicare prescription drug benefit, both issues have not endeared him to US pharma firms and this is reflected in the volume of donations. On the other side, the banner “Pharma for Obama” stems from the fact that US healthcare industry players have given more than three times as much to the Obama campaign as they have to McCain’s, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Obviously, these pharma friends hope for a seat at the table when key healthcare issues are being discussed. Will this result in protectionist policies? So how will this play out for Indian pharma? Write in and let us know. We plan to feature your views in a future issue.

Meanwhile, there are more problematic pills than changing governments and protectionist Presidents. Our Cover Story looks at the market for tobacco cessation products and also reviews issues affecting this segment. A key concern is that is it difficult to differentiate between the withdrawal symptoms faced by a person trying to give up tobacco (or gutka for that matter) and the adverse effects of drugs like varenicline. With more smokers trying to ‘kick the butt’ and return to a healthier lifestyle, there will be more takers for such prescriptions. This makes it all the more important to follow up on adverse drug reactions. Also, somewhere down the line, healthcare practitioners will have to take a call on whether the health benefits of stopping smoking outweigh the risks of getting addicted to the replacement therapy itself.

Viveka Roychowdhury
viveka.r@expressindia.com