Drug Action Forum – Karnataka (DAF-K) is a registered, not for profit, independent non-government organisation (NGO) that is campaigning for Rational Drug Use and Policy.
Drug Action Forum - Karnataka advocates health and access to life saving and essential medicines as a basic human right as envisioned in the Alma Ata Declaration of WHO (http://www.searo.who.int/LinkFiles/Health_Systems_declaration_almaata.pdf) of which India is a signatory and further endorses the “People's Health Charter” (http://www.phmovement.org/en/resources/charters/peopleshealth of People's Health Movement (http://www.phmovement.org/).
Drug Action Forum – Karnataka (DAF-K) is part of All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN - http://aidanindia.wordpress.com/), Health Action International AsiaPacific (HAI-AP http://www.haiasiapacific.org/) and People’s Health Movement – India (PHM-India - http://www.phmovement.org/india/). DAF-K member is also part of Health Action International – Europe (http://haieurope.org/ HAI-E). It is through these networks that DAF-K brings forth local issues to various national and international bodies.
DAF-K grew out of a felt need as many rural community programme lead by doctors from different regions of Karnataka felt that the cost and use of medicines was forcing several families to penury and that this needs to be focused both nationally and internationally. Though initially it consisted of only few doctors later on it grew as the necessity was felt to involve others like journalists, advocates and other campaign groups, which were like-minded.
Various programs initiated
by Drug Action Forum - Karnataka: -
a) Globally Dr Olle Hanson’s Day, 24th May is commemorated as anti-hazardous drug day. By arranging lectures, publishing and releasing books and poster exhibition and press coverage on this particular day Drug Action Forum-Karnataka, highlighted the situation in India to public.
b) Drug Action Forum-Karnataka approached High Court, Karnataka, India for sale of banned drugs in 1987. Again in 1994 Drug Action Forum-Karnataka along with AIDAN and NCCDP (National Campaign Committee on Drug Policy, New Delhi) filed a writ petition in Supreme Court, New Delhi. The court case dealt with various irrational drug combinations that exist in India and was historical case in the sense that it witnessed several hazardous drugs out of the market. This was a breakthrough among activists working in India in the field of health and rational drugs.
c) Currently along with SAMA and LOCOST, Drug Action Forum – Karnataka is also part of a case in Supreme Court of India with regard to the clinical trials of HPV vaccine.
d) Drug Action Forum – Karnataka has to its credit of launching the “Novartis Boycott” campaign. This was when Novartis challenged the rejection of grant for its anti-cancer drug (Gleevac - Imatinib mesylate). Along with this it also challenged Section 3d of the Indian Patent Act. At first Novartis approached the Chennai High Court and then subsequently the Supreme Court of India, New - Delhi. In this long drawn legal battle Novartis lost both the cases. Throughout the case Drug Action Forum – Karnataka launched a campaign against Novartis – calling upon the medical profession all over the country and also the lay public to boycott purchase of any of the products of Novartis; thus creating awareness. The campaign became popular by its name “Novartis Boycott”. This campaign picked up and was supported by AIDAN and People’s Health Movement – India. This particular issue got international media attention. After the Supreme Court judgment the boycott campaign was withdrawn.
e) Drug Action Forum – Karnataka has done a study to address the huge problem of irrational drugs in the Indian market, with a focus on drugs to treat nutritional anemia – a very common clinical condition in India. The study titled “No Drugs to Treat Anemia” focuses on as to how the drug industry has not evinced any interest in manufacturing rational medicines to treat anemia and on the other hand the market is flooded with several costly and irrational products. This study received national media coverage.
f) Vaccines are an important public health tools and one need to address the vaccines needs based on epidemiological studies but unfortunately the vaccine industry along with the support from United Nations bodies (especially WHO) is trying to push several vaccines that are questionable into national vaccine programme of India. DAF-K expresses its concern about the decision making process within WHO; as more and more multinational companies have started being stake holding in WHO. All this is reflected by initiatives of developing countries like India where a host of vaccines are being pushed into public health and thus exhausting the scarce public health resources. DAF-K had specifically examined the issue of hepatitis – B vaccination national programme and made recommendations’ as to how the vaccine can be used judiciously and rationally.
g) DAF-K has launched the “FREE MEDICINES CAMPAIGN”. Accordingly free medicines to be made available in all its government hospitals for the state of Karnataka. This is on the model of Tamil Nadu Medical Service Corporation (http://www.tnmsc.com/). Several Trade Unions have been contacted and training imparted to them on this important issue. (Please see photo). Soon a state level campaign will be launched.