As a consumer protection organisation, CUTS is closely involved with issues related to consumer health and safety and actively working on them since long. Medically inappropriate, ineffective, and economically inefficient use of pharmaceuticals is commonly observed in the health care system throughout the world especially in the developing countries.
One of the very first initiatives by CUTS in the arena of health and consumer safety was a Study of Drug Prescription Practices in India, undertaken in 1995. The study was conducted in six states, viz. West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujrat & Tamil Nadu and involved an all-India survey undertaken in association with the Voluntary Consumer Action Network (V-CAN). Data of nearly 2000 prescriptions were collected from these states and assessed for rationality by experts. The study revealed that there was a gross tendency to prescribe useless medicines and the dire need for prescription audit practices in health care systems.
CUTS, in association with Community Development Medicinal Unit (CDMU), Kolkata, undertook a project titled “An Assessment of Medicine Prices vis-à-vis Quality in Different Health Care Sectors in West Bengal with Reference to Affordability & Availability of Essential Medicines”. Under this project a survey was conducted to assess the affordability & availability of a pre-selected basket of medicines by collecting information on prices consumers are paying at different medical outlets and procurement prices at public facilities of those medicines. The initiative was supported by World Health organisation (WHO) and Health Action International (HAI)
CUTS CRC had worked on a project tiled “Rational Use of Drug”, supported by WHO. It was aimed at promotion of rational use of drugs through patient information material and consumer awareness programmes. The Patient Information Material (PIM) that CUTS had prepared provided a set of drug related do’s and don’ts for consumers and inform them about what constitutes good practice related to drugs. The PIM was tested through survey and group discussions in the four metros and five other state capitals in India. Based on the PIM, publicity material such as posters, leaflets and audio-visual aids were designed and a number of awareness programmes & workshops were conducted by CUTS.