In a bid to make cancer treatment affordable, a Kerala-based foundation has set up a novel pharmacy to sell cancer drugs at a highly subsidized rate. The outlet set up near the Changampuzha Park in Edappally will sell all kinds of cancer drugs, including medicines for chemotherapy, at a 90 per cent discount on its price.
Titled the Prarthana Cancer Care Medicines, the pharmacy is a project undertaken by the Butterfly Cancer Care Foundation for children in collaboration with Confident Group.
"Most of the times, when you hear of drugs being sold at discounted prices, these would be generic drugs of the basic form of the drug. At Prathana, we will make available trade name medicines that include branded medicines for chemotherapy," Dr Jeena, one of the members of Butterfly Cancer Care Foundation, told TNM.
The pharmacy was inaugurated at 5 pm on February 4 â€” World Cancer Day. Not only will the pharmacy supply all types of cancer drugs, including associated supportive medicines or palliative medicines for all patients at highly subsidized rates, but it will also add only a 2 per cent charge on the wholesale price of the drug to sustain the day-to-day operations of the pharmacy.
"All patients or their families need to do is bring a valid prescription from a physician or an oncologist and buy the medicine. The pharmacy is open from 10 am to 7 pm from Monday to Saturday," Dr Jeena added. Patients can also call or send a WhatsApp message to the pharmacy to confirm availability of specific drugs. Medicines that are out of stock will be arranged by the pharmacy within 24-48 hours.
In addition to this, patients coming from far-off distances can also pre-book their drugs by sending a picture of the prescription to the pharmacy's WhatsApp number. Upon confirmation of the stock, these patients can collect the drugs by submitting the original prescription.
Butterfly Cancer Care Foundation was started in 2013 by a bunch of doctors, young professionals, cancer researchers, social workers and even students to help children affected by cancer and their families. Over the years, the foundation has launched many programmes to help families affected by cancer.
"We are completely sponsoring the education of 68 children who come from cancer affected families. This is called Butterfly Education and Research Fellowship or BERF.
Cancer care can be extremely expensive and takes a toll on financially underprivileged and even middle-class families, with children often suffering due to lack of funds. To address this issue, we take under our wings children from these cancer affected families and sponsor their education. This way, they are not deprived of a good childhood and education because of cancer treatment for themselves or their family members," Dr Jeena added.
With the pharmacy too, Butterfly intends to help families who cannot afford the drugs, families who are just above the poverty line and are thus not covered under the Kerala government's 'Karunya scheme'.