Doctors’ bodies in Bihar appear to be gearing up to resist last week’s express directive of the Medical Council of India (MCI) to all registered medical practitioners, asking them to prescribe drugs in their generic names only, or risk disciplinary action.
The MCI’s directive came just days after prime minister Narendra Modi spoke of putting in place a legal framework to ensure that doctors prescribed low-cost generic medicines to patients.
However, functionaries of the Bihar Council of Medical Registration (BCMR) and state unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), are not convinced that the MCI directive is legally tenable. As such, they want to obtain legal opinion on this issue.
“We will follow the MCI’s rules but we also want to obtain legal opinion on this directive,” said Dr Sahjanand Prasad Singh, registrar of the BCMR, the regulatory body on medical registration in Bihar.
The doubt expressed by the BCMR official, regarding the legal tenability of the MCI directive, is significant in that it is the BCMR, which has been asked by the MCI to take suitable disciplinary against the doctors, who violate the directive.
The Bihar branch of the IMA, too, seemed in no hurry to comply with the MCI directive. Its senior vice-president Dr Ajay Kumar said, “We will write both, names of branded drugs, as well a, their generic names, in our prescriptions”.
The IMA too, would take legal opinion on the tenability of the “vague” MCI directive, he added.
Principal of Patna Medical College Hospital (PMCH) Dr SN Sinha, however, said he would enforce the MCI order. “I am calling a meeting of our clinicians to apprise them about contents of the council’s letter, which I have received earlier this week,” he said.
Quoting the amended clause 1.5 of the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002, the MCI, on April 21, 2017, issued a circular directing every physician to prescribe drugs with generic names legibly and preferably in capital letters.
The circular also said, he or she would ensure that there was a rational prescription and use of drugs.
“All registered medical practitioners under the IMC Act are directed to comply with the aforesaid provisions of the regulations without fail,” the circular further said.
The circular said suitable disciplinary action would be taken by the concerned state medical council/MCI against any doctor found violating clause 1.5 of ethics regulation.
The MCI move is intended to ensure medicines to patients at cheaper prices, in line with the intent expressed by the prime minister.
The MCI directive is significant also because the central government is reported to be in the process of revising the National List of Essential Medicines of 2015 to include more medicines.
The Jan Aushadhi programme, under which the government provides essential medicines at reasonable rates, at specially established shops, is also said to be in the process of being reinforced.