THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 23 November 2019 (The pills within reach (Live Mint))

The pills within reach (Live Mint)

  • Mains Paper 2: Health  
  • Prelims level: Not much 
  • Mains level : Medicine availability 


  • India’s government is reportedly planning to allow local retail outlets to sell common drugs. 
  • As per the proposal, the Centre would let regular shops retail over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol, a popularly used pill for which people currently need to visit a pharmacy. 
  • Crucially, these drugs would contain key information on side effects and the appropriate dosage in local languages.

Availability of these medicines

  • The wide availability of these medicines would offer relief to people living in far-flung areas where pharmacies are few and far between.
  • In India, self-medication is highly prevalent, particularly in the rural areas. This is due to several reasons. There aren’t just enough qualified doctors in the country.
  • The situation is grimmer in the rural hinterland. Reports suggest that about two-thirds of all doctors in India cater to urban areas. 
  • Moreover, going to a doctor proves to be time-consuming and expensive for rural folks. 
  • If non-prescription drugs can be bought at a local corner shop, it could help lower treatment costs for millions of people who have no chemist closeby.

Way ahead 

  • The proposal, though, alarms observers who insist on strict regulation of who is allowed to dispense medicines. 
  • The popping of pills without any medical authorization or knowledge could pose an immediate health risk.
  • Easy availability could also result in an overuse of some over-the-counter drugs, compromising people’s health over a longer span of time. 
  • This has already happened in the case of antibiotics, whose rampant overuse has turned several strains of disease-causing bacteria resistant to these drugs. 


  • Yet, given the ground conditions in India, the benefits could outweigh those worries.

Online Coaching for UPSC PRE Exam

General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

Prelims Questions: 

Q.1) With reference to the LOTUS-HR project, consider the following statements:

1.    It was launched by Ministry of Earth Sciences
2.    It aims to demonstrate a novel holistic (waste) water management approach that will produce clean water which can be reused for various purposes.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) None of the above

Ans: B

Mains Questions:
Q.1) What are the key benefits and challenges of the selling of common drugs in India?