Food than pills is the best source for iron

Anaemia is a widespread condition in India. The biggest cause is malnourishment and iron-poor diets. Though the best remedy is a good diet, anaemia has spawned a huge market for iron supplements, usually of the expensive variety (see box: Market slice).

A 2006 market survey by the Drug Action Forum-Karnataka (daf-k), an ngo campaigning, in their words, for rational drugs and policies, showed that cheaper versions of iron supplements are not available.

Ferrous fumarate tablets with a 200-mg strength, on the Union ministry of health and family welfare's list of essential drugs as an anti-anaemic, was not available because, at 13 paise a pop, manufacturers were not interested in producing it.

In the absence of this, and other cheap alternatives, doctors are forced to prescribe the few that are readily available