Making it compulsory to prescribe generic drugs is a good move but there needs to be enough infrastructures to implement it at ground level, say doctors.
During the inauguration of a hospital in Surat yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government will make “legal arrangements” to ensure doctors prescribe generic medicines.
Welcoming the move, Dr Nikhil Datar, founder President of Patient Safety Alliance, an NGO that works on empowering patients and supporting healthcare professionals to prevent medical errors said, “The decision is good but the most difficult proposition is the patients are scared to use generic drugs because of the quality concern. How do we doctors guarantee them the quality of the generic drug? We need government certified pharmaceutical companies to produce generic drugs to roll out this program.
A generic drug is identical — or bioequivalent — to a brand name drug in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics and intended use. Although generic drugs are chemically identical to their branded counterparts, they are typically sold at substantial discounts from the branded price.
Dr Shivkumar Utture, central working committee member and IMA, state office bearer, said there needs to be a robust plan on how to implement it at ground level by having strategically placed generic medicine shops. “It is a good idea to make prescribing generic drugs compulsory but before that the infrastructure for generic drugs need to be in place. Else, it will invite nexus between chemists and pharma companies with chemist deciding which generic drug to sell,” said Utture.
Earlier the Indian Medical Association (IMA) had earlier written a letter to the Union Health Ministry requesting it to bring down the drug price variation.
Dr Jayesh Lele, member of the IMA and former president of its Maharashtra arm said, “The drug price variation was one of the topics discussed in our central working committee meeting. We felt the need to have certified generic drugs so that people get benefited with it.”
Lele said generic drugs will benefit patients of diabetes, hypertension as they have to take medicines for a long term and generic drugs will help them save a lot. “If the union health ministry certifies generic drugs, people won’t run behind brands and we doctors can freely prescribe them,” said Dr Lele.
In 2013, in a landmark decision, Supreme Court of India denied Novartis AG (NOVN)’s request for patent protection for its Gleevec cancer treatment, allowing the nation’s generic-drug makers to continue to sell copies of the drug at a lower price. The Medical Council of India’s (MCI) too had issued directives to its doctors to prescribe generic medicines as far as possible.
Following this, the Centre had directed all the states to ask their doctors in public facilities to prescribe only generic medicines. To promote generic drugs, more than 150 Jan Aushadhi Stores have already been opened across India.