For the last six months Nilesh Naiskar has been borrowing money from his friends and colleagues to pay for the medicines to treat his blood cancer. Naiskar, 33, was diagnosed of chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of blood cancer which requires him to take a pill ever day throughout his life.
A month-long supply of the life-saving drugs costs him around R9000 and that too is “unaffordable” according to Naiskar.
Naiskar is among lakhs of patients who can afford to treat themselves thanks to the cheap generic versions of expensive drugs that are available at one-tenth of the cost of the patented drugs. “I would prefer to die than spend lakhs of rupees on my treatment. I could never have afforded to buy these patented drugs," he said .
To support the expenses of her husband’s treatment Naiskar’s wife Gandhali has taken up a sales job in a private company. “She took the job a month ago so that she can support my treatment cost. We were even planning a child but that too will have to wait given the huge expenses being incurred in my treatment,” said Naiskar who earns R30,000 a month working at a call centre in Vashi.
Apart from the medications Naiskar said that repeated blood test along with doctor’s consultation fees is an expensive affair in itself. “My salary supports a family of five. My salary is not just meant to buy medicines; I have to support a paralytic father and buy groceries also,” said Naiskar.