Letter: Cheap drugs here

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Having just returned from medical work in Nepal, I am intrigued by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry's statement that "the pharmaceutical industry in the UK is highly competitive especially in terms of prices" ("Price war at the pharmacy", 16 December).

Most of the drugs available in Nepal are manufactured in India and their efficacy in clinical practice I have found to be the same as their UK equivalents but the price is about one-tenth to one-twentieth of the UK price. Any argument about research and development costs can hardly apply to such humble drugs as paracetamol. The ABPI may be highly competitive within the UK, but the NHS drugs bill could be greatly reduced by purchasing further afield, and with benefit to the ailing Asian economy.