With Medical Council of India’s (MCI) direction to all doctors to prescribe only generic drugs in a clear and legible handwriting, the doctors association in Telangana and elsewhere in the country are still finding it tough to comply with the directive and expressing their inability to do it, because they have least confidence in the efficacy and quality of generics.
According to Dr. Narsing Reddy, president of State Medical Association, Telangana, though the government’s intention in asking the doctors’ community to prescribe only generic medicines to help the patient’s get affordable healthcare, there is no proper regulatory system to continuously monitor the quality and efficacy of the generics. This may backfire and may cause irreversible damage to the patients.
“We feel that without proper rules and regulatory quality control systems on generic medicines, it is impractical to prescribe only generic medicines. We demand the government that before coming out with any frame work on prescribing generic drugs, the government should first fix the prices of generics and branded drugs on a same platform. When both generics and branded version of same medicine functions with same efficacy and give the same result then why should be there 70-80 per cent variation in the prices,” countered Dr Narsing Reddy.
Dr Narsing Reddy also sought for strict regulation of medical stores, where majority of stores have appointed shop keepers and non qualified persons instead of pharmacists to dispense medicines. “If we start prescribing the generic drugs, then who will control the pharmacies who may instead of dispensing the generic drugs may sell the branded medicines of same drug and if this happens, neither the patient nor the doctor who is treating will be satisfied. Because, on one hand the patient may not get affordable medicine, while on the other if there is any side effects and adverse reactions then the doctors will be blamed. Therefore we demand the government to frame rules and regulations with a level playing platform where it should take steps to regularly monitor and test the quality and efficacy of generic medicines in the market. Secondly the government should also bring a level playing platform to fix the prices of generics and branded drugs with same uniformity,” observed Reddy.
However, on the contrary, the Telangana Pharmacists Association president Sanjay Reddy welcomed the government’s move directing the doctors to prescribe generic medicines and said that as per World Health Organization (WHO) more than 79-80 per cent of populations are spending half of their earning on medicines and healthcare. In view of this the move by the government to ask doctors to prescribe generic medicines is welcome as it will drastically cut the healthcare costs for the patients.
“We welcome the government’s move, as the same time we also demand the government to improve the quality control mechanism of generic drugs and publish BA/BE clinical trial studies on regular basis which will not only instill confidence among the doctors but also the patients alike,” said Sanjay Reddy.
At present, the price difference of generics and branded drugs is varying anywhere between 70-80 per cent. For instance the generic paracetamol drug used for treating fever and headache which costs Rs.8 a strip of 10 tablets, the same medicine with brand name costs Rs.25-30.
Similarly, Citrizen for cold, whose generic versions costs Rs.1.80 to Rs.2 per strip, the branded version costs Rs.15-16. Like this there are hundreds of medicines generic and branded medicines which differ hugely in their costs. Overall experts both physicians and pharmacists feel that the government must frame rules and regulations and ensure the quality and efficacy of the generic medicine and should fix the prices of the medicines on a level platform and only then it will be practical to implement for the doctors to prescribe the generic medicines.