Admittedly many of the factors regarding technology and industry are out of the immediate control of most health workes. What then can ordinary citizens immediately do to adopt more rational therapeutic practices?
We would suggest a few as below:
- Aquire and disseminate correct information on medicines, their dosage, their side-effects, etc (through rational drug therapy work shops, etc.)
- Use meetings, magazines, newspapers to write and reach more people about rational therapy.
- Study prescription practices and analyse irrationalities (A result of one such effort is shown in Appendix 5).
- Form networks for the distribution of low cost, generic essential medicines (like LOCOST, Baroda; CDMU, Calcutta, etc.)
- Build networks of doctors, non-doctors, who believe in rational therapy.
- Oppose by various forms of joint/individual social action, attempts by companies to bribe, give gifts, etc.
- Refuse advertisements / support from drug industry for seminars, etc.
- Form cells to give correct advice about drugs to doctors / non-doctors who do not have correct information. (Appendix 6 gives details of the Prescription Guidance and Information Cell of LOCOST).
- Use only a limited list of essential, generic medicines in your own practice. (Details of such lists are available with LOCOST, VHAI, etc.) Appendix 7 gives details of the generic-brand controversy.
- Boycott, wherever feasible, products of companies guilty of serious corporate frimes, as also all irrational, useless, harmful drugs, and fixed dose combinations.
- Use newspapers and other fora to oppose false/misleading propaganda by drug companies, etc. Let industry know that you are alert and fighting fit.
- If you are a health worker/social activist/concerned citizen, train carefully to prescribe correctly, and educate people about the right use of medicines.
- Remember that the goal of drug action is community health (in other words, don’t forget about other issues in health when getting involved with drugs).
Drugs, disease and doctors involve some very powerful socio-political and emotional froces. Modern Drugs, because of their success rates and because of the huge profits involved, have become a crucial area for people to exercise their right to freedom, their right to non-violation of the sanctity of one’s body, and in many cases their right to maintain one’s personal moral integrity and identity. Only enlightened social action can help maintain our health through this double-edged sword