‘Govt to crackdown on doctors-pharma firms’ nexus’

  • Tanbir Dhaliwal, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Apr 14, 2016 15:36 IST
Dr VK Subburaj (HT Photo)

On Monday, a new Jan Aushadhi outlet was inaugurated at the new OPD of Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER). It is a new model which is directly managed by Bureau of Pharma Public Sector Undertakings of India (BPPI) and has 450 drugs and around 250 surgical items in stock.

Dr VK Subburaj, secretary, department of pharmaceuticals, ministry of chemicals and fertilizers shares more details.

How will this new Jan Aushadhi centre be different from the existing stores?

Previously, the scheme was started in 2008 and it was opened at 250 places. Subsequently, many stores were closed because of changes in the policy of the state governments. For example, in Rajasthan, 100 stores were closed because state government decided they will provide free drugs in government hospitals. In other states, where Jan Aushadhi stores were functional, they were supplying only 100 drugs and now 450 drugs are here.

Secondly, continuous supply chain mechanism has been established now. Earlier, it was not there, so supply was not forth coming adequately. Now, we (BPPI) are stocking drugs in huge quantity and have appointed distributers-supply chain mechanism is available and there will be no problem. So, BPPI will take over all exiting Jan Aushadhi centres. 3,000 fully stocked Jan-Aushadhi stores across the country.

Doctors have their own doubts about the quality of generic drugs. Within PGIMER, there are doctors who are not confident when it comes to prescribing generic drugs to critical patients. What do you have to say on this?

These doubts are unfounded, because whenever we offer anything very cheap in the country, people think that it is of poor quality. This is a psychological problem, where people think that only high costs product can be of good quality. As far as drugs are concerned, private companies pack the same drugs, call it branded and charge high cost. Virtually, there is no difference between generic and branded quality.

Does the ministry take the responsibility of the quality of generic drugs provided at Jan Aushadhi stores?

We do take the responsibility, because we are getting it from good quality companies and are also procuring from our own public sector undertakings which are directly under the control of the government of India. So, quality is not the problem at all and we take the responsibility. To assure the quality, we send the samples to accredited laboratories for checking. After getting the quality certificate only, these medicines are sent to these hospitals.

How will Jan Aushadhi stores provide relief to patients suffering from chronic ailments like diabetes, blood pressure?

We have drugs for all chronic ailments. A diabetic patient has to spend at least Rs 2000 per month for his treatment, but if he takes same drugs through Jan Aushadhi route the cost would come down to around Rs 350 per month. Likewise, we have high quality and low cost drugs for almost all chronic diseases like BP, heart related complications, dermatology, cancer, kidney ailments and others.

Does ministry have any plan to break the nexus between doctors and pharmaceutical companies? People often complain that many doctors take commission from pharmaceutical companies and prescribe only branded drugs?

To regulate the system, the ministry is coming up with new codes of conduct for pharmaceutical companies where firms will be directed not to give any gifts or payment to doctors. We will make the order mandatory and it will be issued in a month or so. The pharmaceutical companies will not give any freebies to doctors. The binding will be on doctors as well.

How to inculcate confidence among people?

BPPI will launch media plan to create awareness among people and doctors about the generic medicines.

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