Chemists have now sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention on the ban of 350 fixed-dose combination (FDC) drugs.
FDC medicines combine two or more drugs in a single pill. While the idea is to benefit the patient in terms of faster recovery, many experts feel some therapeutic groups, when clubbed together, might lead to drug resistance. In India, many pharma companies obtain licence from a state to make FDCs, and sell them without the consent of the Central government.
The Bangalore District Chemists & Druggists Association (BDCDA), which represents around 4,000 chemists of southern India, has written a letter to the Prime Minister.
In its communique dated March 16, the association has requested Prime Minister Modi and minister of health and family welfare, JP Nadda, to “withdraw or keep in abeyance the gazette notification regarding prohibition of manufacture, sale and distribution of FDC drugs.”
“We express our fear on prohibition of 344 FDC drugs at a single stretch. This may damage the image of the system and the ministry,” said the letter signed by VHarikrishnan, president of the BDCDA.
Last week, the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggist (AIOCD), which includes the BDCDA and represents 750,000 medicine sellers across India, had written to the Drug Controller General of India, citing the possibility of closing their shops for at least 30 days due to the ban.
Chemist associations in different states are planning to move courts on the ban.
Urging the government to reconsider its decision, the BDCDA has asked ministers and direct authorities for “sufficient data, which has resulted in subjective satisfaction to the conclusion that the said FDCs are likely to involve risks to human beings.”
It has asked the government to share details on “study/deliberations, which have been carried out to decide whether safer alternatives, or really safe, are efficacious.”
Meanwhile, last week, chemists across the country also warned the government that the ban would lead to the shortage of almost 5,000 medicines, including generics, from the market.
Doctors have also expressed disappointment at the government’s decision.
“The decision of banning combination drugs is not at all welcoming. Combinations help in reducing the dosage in terms of taking multiple tablets at a time and also reduces the cost of treatment,” said Raman Sharma, internal medicine, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute.
For instance, medicine dose of a diabetic patient otherwise includes about eight drugs in a day, but in a combination dose, he ends up consuming not more than three drugs.