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The Hindu Editorial

25-January-2024

1. India’s problem — different drugs, identical brand names.

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government Policies – Issues arising out of their design & implementation.
UPSC Relevance: Critical patient safety concern – Identical drug names in India lead to confusion, prescription errors, demanding urgent reforms for regulation.
Context:
  • The article discusses the critical issue of identical brand names for different drugs in India, posing risks of confusion and prescription errors.
  • Despite past recommendations, regulatory measures have been ineffective, necessitating urgent reforms for patient safety.
 Identical Brand Names for Different Drugs:
  • Oncologist Dr. Vincent Rajkumar highlighted the alarming issue of identical brand names, ‘Linamac,’ for drugs treating cancer and diabetes, posing serious risks to patients.
Prevalent Issue in India:
  • India has a longstanding problem of using identical trade names for drugs with distinct active ingredients, causing confusion among medical practitioners and patients.
  • Notable examples include the brand name ‘Medzole,’ employed by multiple companies for drugs treating various medical conditions.
  • Similar trade names that are phonetically and visually alike further exacerbate the problem, leading to potential prescription errors and patient safety concerns.
Concerns in India:
  • The use of similar names is particularly concerning in India due to drug packaging primarily in English, understood by a minority, and lax regulation in the pharmaceutical sector.
  • Poorly regulated pharmacies increase the likelihood of dispensing errors, especially when compounded by confusingly similar drug names.
Previous Judicial Recommendations:
  • Despite Supreme Court and Parliamentary Committee recommendations to prevent confusingly similar drug names, the issue persisted, prompting the Delhi High Court’s intervention.
Ineffective Regulatory Measures:
  • The Drugs and Cosmetics (Thirteenth Amendment) Rules, 2019, introduced a self-certification system for pharmaceutical companies, proving ineffective in preventing identical or similar drug names.
  • Lack of a comprehensive pharmaceutical brand-name database hampers the implementation of effective regulatory measures.
Absence of Data on Prescription Errors:
  • India lacks data on prescription errors, hindering acknowledgment of the problem by the Ministry of Health.
  • The absence of political will within the Drug Regulation Section impedes the initiation of reforms to address the issue.
Need for Reforms:
  • Urgent reforms are necessary, mirroring systems in the United States and Europe, where drug regulators assess drug names to minimize confusion and prescription errors.
  • Acknowledging the problem and establishing effective regulatory mechanisms are crucial steps toward ensuring patient safety and preventing medication-related errors in India.
Conclusion:
  • The rampant use of identical drug names in India poses grave risks to patient safety, demanding immediate regulatory reforms. Acknowledging and addressing this issue is crucial for a robust healthcare system.
Practice Question: How does the prevalent use of identical brand names for diverse drugs in India impact patient safety and necessitate regulatory reforms? (150 words/10 m)

2. Providing clean water to all.

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice – Health
Critical for UPSC: Jal Jeevan Mission’s success in providing tap water, addressing regional challenges, and promoting socio-economic development aligns with sustainable goals.
Context:
  • The article highlights the success of India’s Jal Jeevan Mission, initiated in 2019 by the government of India, in providing tap water to 73% of rural households, addressing regional challenges, promoting socio-economic development, and ensuring transparency.
Jal Jeevan Mission Impact:
  • Launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019, the mission has achieved tap water access for 73% of rural households.
  • Over 14 crore rural households now have tap connections, a significant increase from 3.23 crore in August 2019.
Regional Tailoring and Infrastructure Challenges:
  • Tailored approaches were employed based on diverse terrains and geographical differences, such as using insulated pipes in hilly regions.
  • Strengthening infrastructure was a challenge, but the mission united communities, development partners, and NGOs.
Diverse Solutions for Varied Challenges:
  • Recognizing diverse needs, the mission implemented insulated pipes, multi-village schemes, and community water purification plants.
  • The core theme of ‘no one is left behind’ guided efforts to address different challenges effectively.
Comprehensive Impact Beyond Clean Water:
  • Nobel Laureate Dr. Michael Kremer’s study indicates a potential 30% reduction in infant deaths, preventing 25% of under-five deaths in India annually.
  • WHO study suggests tap water provision could avert 4 lakh diarrhoeal deaths, with an economic saving potential of $101 billion.
Socio-economic Strengthening and Community Involvement:
  • The mission focuses on strengthening socio-economic fabric by involving women in decision-making, empowering youth, and creating local water enterprises.
  • Initiatives like Nal Jal Mitra equip villagers with skills for maintaining water supply schemes, empowering communities.
Employment Generation and Skill Development:
  • A study highlights the mission’s employment potential of 59.93 lakh person-years of direct employment during construction and additional direct employment during operation and maintenance.
  • Over 5.29 lakh village water and sanitation committees have been formed, training 22.98 lakh women for water sample testing.
Transparency and Efficiency Measures:
  • The mission employs a real-time dashboard for updates and progress reports, ensuring transparency in water resource management.
  • Continuous monitoring and surveillance of water quality parameters through advanced technologies and a proactive Water Quality Management Information System.
Future Roadmap and Sustainability:
  • The mission aims to eliminate water scarcity, engage communities in water asset maintenance, and achieve drinking water targets.
  • Positive outlook for the future with available resources and a commitment to making water scarcity history in rural households.
Conclusion:
  • In conclusion, the Jal Jeevan Mission’s remarkable achievements, spanning tap water access, regional solutions, socio-economic empowerment, and transparency measures, underscore its pivotal role in advancing India’s sustainable development goals.
PYQ: What are the environmental implications of the reclamation of water bodies into urban land use? Explain with examples. (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-1 2021)
Practice Question: How has the Jal Jeevan Mission demonstrated effectiveness in achieving tap water access, addressing regional challenges, and promoting socio-economic empowerment in rural India? Discuss with examples. (250 words/15 m)

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