Research Highlight

Kerala pharamacies short on essential CVD, diabetes drugs

doi:10.1038/nindia.2020.181 Published online 1 December 2020

The availability of essential medicines (EMs) used to manage cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes falls short of the World Health Organisation’s target at public and private retail pharmacies in Kerala, a study reveals1.

Although affordability was better in the public sector, the mean availability was low, a team of researchers has found. By contrast, availability was better in private retail, but affordability was lower, the researchers say.  

To assess the availability of EMs for CVD and diabetes, an international team, including scientists from the National College of Pharmacy in Kozhikode, and the George Institute for Global Health in Hyderabad, both in India, chose Kerala, a state in India that has a high burden of CVD and diabetes. They evaluated the availability and prices of 23 EMs at 30 public and 60 private retail pharmacies across six districts in Kerala.  

The researchers mostly looked at the availability of generic EMs at government hospitals and government-subsidised-discount pharmacies (GSDPs) and private retail outlets. 

The mean availability of surveyed generic EMs was 45.7 per cent in government hospitals, 64.7 per cent in GSDPs and 72 per cent in private retail pharmacies, they report.  This indicates that the availability of CVD and diabetes EMs falls short of WHO’s 80 per cent target in both sectors. 

Kerala trends might not hold true for other Indian states, but they would provide a reference point for future studies elsewhere in India and abroad, the researchers say. This research, they say, stresses the need to develop an online information portal where general public can obtain facility-specific information on medicine stocks and volumes.


1. Satheesh, G. et al. Availability, price and affordability of essential medicines for managing cardiovascular diseases and diabetes: a statewide survey in Kerala, India. Trop. Med. Int. Health. (2020) doi: 10.1111/tmi.13494