Doctors welcome move to prescribe generic drugs, say accessibility may be an issue
While on the one hand Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement to bring in a law to compel doctors to prescribe generic drugs is being hailed by the medical fraternity, on the other hand access to these drugs is a matter of concern.
“It is a good thing and will benefit patients a lot as they will be getting life-saving drugs at a much cheaper rates,” says Dr KK Talwar, former director, PGI Chandigarh and head of cardiology at Max Healthcare.
The Medical Council of India (MCI), an apex body that supervises medical education in the country, already has a recommendation in place wherein they have asked doctors to preferably prescribe generic drugs.
“It is not as if we don’t prescribe generic drugs; in fact one-third of the medicines that I prescribe are generic medicines, but currently accessibility and quality of these drugs is an issue,” says Dr Talwar.
Prescribing a generic medicine means doctors are supposed to write the name of the salt and not the brand name under which the salt is manufactured and marketed.
“We do not even write the brand name of the generic drug as it defeats the purpose. Why should I be prescribing one brand of generic medicine and not the other, which is why we just write the salt name,” says a senior doctor at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, requesting anonymity.
The problem, however, is that there are not enough outlets selling generic drugs.
“Though things are improving, there is still a lot that the field requires. We have some companies producing generic drugs and we export these medicines, too, but most of the shops selling these medicines are not well stocked,” says the AIIMS doctor.
Assuring better quality is equally important.
“Promoting generic industry is good but we should not just produce generic drugs but also produce quality generic drugs as it is a matter of people’s lives. The government should a proper monitoring mechanism in place for the production quality of these drugs,” says Dr Talwar.
Also, another crucial factor is some of the new salts are patented that cannot be produced by generic drug makers.
“There are certain new drugs that are patented and cannot be manufactured for a certain number of years such as heart or cancer medicines but old salts can definitely be manufactured to benefit patients at large,” says Dr Talwar.
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