This profile was prepared when Chinu Srinivasan was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2005.
The New Idea
Srinivasan is setting out to break the logjam in the Indian drug industry that has kept drug prices so high that they are unaffordable and inaccessible to a majority of India's citizens.After a period of demonstrating the efficacy of his low-cost production idea while contracting for the use of spare capacity in the drug industry, he is now moving to direct production. This model unit will function as an important alternative source of medicines to those groups and individuals seeking to circumvent the virtual monopoly drug manufacturers currently enjoy. Equally important, it will demystify the production process and demonstrate that drugs can be manufactured and sold well below current market prices. Srinivasan hopes his prototype will help catalyze public resistance to the current artificially high-price arrangements.The production facility will allow Srinivasan and his colleagues in the cooperative he helped found, Low Cost Standard Therapeutics (LOCOST), to supply desperately needed drugs at low cost initially to fifteen percent of the Indian voluntary sector - 300 organizations. Their approximately ten million end users are only a tiny percentage of those that need LOCOST's help, but by serving them all across the subcontinent he will be creating an invaluable model. The new production unit will give Srinivasan the independence to build on the comparative advantages that have made his work possible so far: location at the center of the drug industry and near suppliers of raw materials, technical competence, and the elimination of high-priced marketing campaigns and fancy packaging.