India mulls monopoly purchasing

Barack Obama may have spooked drugmakers with his proposal to have Medicare buy meds in bulk, but that proposal pales beside a plan India is now considering. The Indian government may take over all patented-drug purchases--not only for public healthcare but also for private providers. That means that the government would be the country's sole supplier.

Monopoly purchasing, of course, would allow the government to do some tough negotiating on price. Supporters say it would offer patients better access to new treatments, which remain out of reach financially for most of India's enormous population. They also say that drugmakers would benefit too: They'd have huge bulk contracts--with assured cash flow--and they'd save money on marketing, because they wouldn't have to promote their products to retailers, hospitals, and pharmacies. But critics say the government could end up limiting patients' access by choosing, say, one cholesterol-lowering drug out of the array of many.

Such an arrangement would be a game-changer for the many drugmakers who've been eyeing the Indian market for a big chunk of their future growth. We'll see if the plan proceeds past the proposal phase.

- see the story in PharmaTimes