The retail price of various syringes are often marked up as much as 655% compared to the price at which distributors purchase them, an analysis by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority said.
The regulatory body, which analysed data from official sources and manufacturers and importers on the trade margins of these products, said that distributors on an average pay Rs 14.92 for 50 ml hypodermic disposable needles, which are then sold for Rs 65.13. These needles are also marked up the most, sold with 270% trade margin on an average, the pricing body said. Insulin pen needles are marked up the least, with an average trade margin of 57%. The maximum trade margins, depending on the type of syringe, varies between 214% and 1,251%, according to the regulator.
“The reason for these markups is that the market got distorted some years ago,” Pavan Choudhary, the President of the Medical Technology Association of India, told PTI. “Most companies could not sustain without following this trend of high trade margins.” Choudhary’s organisation is a lobbyist for several research-based medical technology companies.
This practice is not justified and the Medical Technology Association had endorsed a report that the Department of Pharmaceuticals had published in 2016, Choudhary said, adding that the department’s proposals would “dramatically” reduce the prices of syringes and needles without creating a shortage.
A lobby group of domestic syringe and needle manufacturers had voluntarily decided in December 2017 to reduce the retail price by more than 50% amid speculation that the government would control the prices of more medical devices, The Economic Times reported. The All India Syringes and Needles Manufacturers Association had put a 75% limit on distributor and retailer margins.
The hazards of single-use plastic items, and what to use instead.
In June 2018, a distressed whale in Thailand made headlines around the world. After an autopsy it’s cause of death was determined to be more than 80 plastic bags it had ingested. The pictures caused great concern and brought into focus the urgency of the fight against single-use plastic. This term refers to use-and-throw plastic products that are designed for one-time use, such as takeaway spoons and forks, polythene bags styrofoam cups etc. In its report on single-use plastics, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has described how single-use plastics have a far-reaching impact in the environment.
Dense quantity of plastic litter means sights such as the distressed whale in Thailand aren’t uncommon. Plastic products have been found in the airways and stomachs of hundreds of marine and land species. Plastic bags, especially, confuse turtles who mistake them for jellyfish - their food. They can even exacerbate health crises, such as a malarial outbreak, by clogging sewers and creating ideal conditions for vector-borne diseases to thrive. In 1988, poor drainage made worse by plastic clogging contributed to the devastating Bangladesh floods in which two-thirds of the country was submerged.
Plastic litter can, moreover, cause physiological harm. Burning plastic waste for cooking fuel and in open air pits releases harmful gases in the air, contributing to poor air quality especially in poorer countries where these practices are common. But plastic needn’t even be burned to cause physiological harm. The toxic chemical additives in the manufacturing process of plastics remain in animal tissue, which is then consumed by humans. These highly toxic and carcinogenic substances (benzene, styrene etc.) can cause damage to nervous systems, lungs and reproductive organs.
The European Commission recently released a list of top 10 single-use plastic items that it plans to ban in the near future. These items are ubiquitous as trash across the world’s beaches, even the pristine, seemingly untouched ones. Some of them, such as styrofoam cups, take up to a 1,000 years to photodegrade (the breakdown of substances by exposure to UV and infrared rays from sunlight), disintegrating into microplastics, another health hazard.
More than 60 countries have introduced levies and bans to discourage the use of single-use plastics. Morocco and Rwanda have emerged as inspiring success stories of such policies. Rwanda, in fact, is now among the cleanest countries on Earth. In India, Maharashtra became the 18th state to effect a ban on disposable plastic items in March 2018. Now India plans to replicate the decision on a national level, aiming to eliminate single-use plastics entirely by 2022. While government efforts are important to encourage industries to redesign their production methods, individuals too can take steps to minimise their consumption, and littering, of single-use plastics. Most of these actions are low on effort, but can cause a significant reduction in plastic waste in the environment, if the return of Olive Ridley turtles to a Mumbai beach are anything to go by.
To know more about the single-use plastics problem, visit Planet or Plastic portal, National Geographic’s multi-year effort to raise awareness about the global plastic trash crisis. From microplastics in cosmetics to haunting art on plastic pollution, Planet or Plastic is a comprehensive resource on the problem. You can take the pledge to reduce your use of single-use plastics, here.
This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of National Geographic, and not by the Scroll editorial team.