Himachal Pradesh has made it mandatory for doctors in government hospitals and dispensaries to prescribe generic rather than certain branded drugs from Dec 1, an official said here on Thursday.
"From Dec 1 the doctors will start prescribing 191 generic medicines which have been shortlisted so far," director of the state health and family welfare department Kulbhushan Sood told.
He said the identified generic medicines, comparatively much cheaper, would be stocked in the state civil supplies corporation drug stores within hospitals.
Sood said the government has prepared an essential drug list comprising 314 formulations which would make available 430 drugs to the patients. "All 314 formulations would be made available in the drug stores soon," he said.
To know the highest prescribers of certain branded drugs, the government is going to periodically audit doctors' prescriptions.
"Initially, the review of the medicines will start in the medical colleges, zonal and district hospitals, and it will be done on a random basis," another health official said.
The aim is to ascertain that a doctor is not prescribing pricier brands, when cheaper generic versions are available in the stories, he said.
He said one copy of the prescription slip would be given to the patient, and another would be maintained in hospitals records.
Hearing a public interest petition by Amandeep Chauhan alleging high prices of life-saving drugs, the state high court last year observed: "Such an increase (in prices) shocks the judicial conscience of this court. The salt is the same. The drug is commonly manufactured. There is no patent with regard to the drug. It only shows that at the cost of poor patients, huge profits are being made."
Taking up the case of drug atorvastatin, used for heart ailments, the court observed Dec 29, 2012, the drug manufactured by Hetero Labs Ltd and marketed by Gen X Pharma Ltd under the brand name of GenxVast cost Rs 12 for a pack of 10 tablets of 10 mg each.
The same manufacturer's drug marketed under brand name Lilo by Glaxo Smith Kline cost Rs 33.75 for a pack of 10 tablets of 10 mg each - almost three times the price of GenxVast, the court said.
"The fact is that the same manufacturer is manufacturing an identical drug of identical potency under different brand names and pricing them differently. How can a poor patient, who comes from a rural background, confront a doctor or a chemist when he is sold an expensive medicine," asked the court.