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THE GENERIC DREAM

P A Francis
Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Prime minister Narendra Modi last Monday made a significant public announcement in Surat about bringing ‘a legal framework’ to make doctors prescribe generic medicines throughout the country. Such a guarantee from the Central government is badly needed in a country where prevalence of both infectious and lifestyle diseases are increasingly impoverishing majority of the population. This is because the overall government spending on public health is far below in India compared to several developed and developing countries. The medicine cost as a component of treatment procedure for a patient is quite high in India because of the current prescription practice of medical practitioners. The practice among doctors is to prescribe branded generics and some times even patented drugs to patients. While patented drugs are highly unaffordable to the common man, several branded generics of multinational companies and large Indian companies are also expensive. Although National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority is expected to regulate the prices of essential medicines, contradictions like different MRPs for the same branded generic with the same strength of different companies exist. And the doctors usually prescribe most expensive branded generics of the MNCs or big Indian companies. Probably this trend prevails because the retail chemists stock costly branded generics as only that ensures higher trade margins than the low priced branded generics.
 
It is in this scenario, the government seeks to introduce this highly laudable practice of prescribing of low priced generic medicines. To make this programme a success, the medical practitioners across the country have to cooperate and need to be competent. It will mean that they should remember the names of the active pharmaceutical ingredients containing in each of the medicines they prescribe. Most of the doctors may know chemical names of some of the widely used old medicines such as paracetamol, aspirin, ibuprofen, etc. But, a large number of them are not familiar with lengthy names of several others including hundreds of newly introduced other APIs. In a situation like this, to ensure generic prescription by doctors is going to be a big task. Monitoring prescription practice in big private and government hospitals may be possible but to have check in thousands of primary health centres and private clinics run by doctors located in vast rural areas and semi urban centres is going to be very difficult. Now, next task is to make pharmaceutical companies and the retail trade to fall in line. Both these segments are against the move as they think the government plan will affect their business seriously. Pharmaceutical companies are solely depending on brand promotion of their products for their profitability. And the retail chemists are interested in storing and selling expensive branded generics and patented products as that only ensures higher trade margins to them. Considering these factors, cooperation of all the three groups are essential to make the PM’s goal a success.

 

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Alok Ganguli Apr 28, 2017 3:29 PM
If generics are the only future players, there is no need for Modi to bring separate legislation for generic prescription.
By saying this, Modi admitted that 'brands' will be there.
The mute questions remained unanswered as to "whose brands" and "whose generics" ?
In Hindi, there is an old saying, " Chit vi mera, pot vi mera, unta mera baap ka"...... Sabbas, multinational drug corporations......
Pradip Trivedi Apr 26, 2017 10:43 AM
I am surprised to see the mention of Chemist as the person who is stocking branded generics. Let me put before you that under the present law chemists are not allowed to change even brand than why chemist will tend to enter into any such practice. Chemist has to just sale the medicines that is prescribed by doctors. He has no right beyond that. It seems that most easily available scapegoat is Chemists and hence every one is making comments on the same. Chemist is just full filling the prescription. And another culprit is Government itself Government own agency NPPA is fixing prices, why on market base and why not cost base? for example NPPA have fixed the prices of Paracetamol 500mg tablet to some 95 paise tablet while Government own another agency Jan Aausadhi is selling the same product at much lower price that is means Government have all the information but allowing Manufacturers to fatch more profit. Why?, is best known to them only.
Alok Ganguli Apr 26, 2017 12:07 AM
Meaning of generic in USA and India is completely different.
In USA, Before 2011, Pfizer's Lipitor was a patented product and now it is generic there. Whether Pfizer will market in the name of Lipitor or Atorvastatin in India?
Secondly, Storvas of Ranbaxy (now of Sun Pharma) will be sold as Storvas or Atorvastatin ? These are the grey areas...
At the end of the day, it becomes clear that Modi is shedding crocodiles tears on the plight of the poor. If the drug price is high, why he is not bringing legislation to bring down high price?

 
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