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Patients paying high prices as no government generic drug unit in State

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  18 Oct 2016 12:00 AM GMT


TINSUKIA, Oct 17: To reduce health care cost to the extent 60-80 per cent, the State Government way back in 2013 made it mandatory for the government doctors to prescribe generic medicines and in 2015 Centre assured the State that it would set up generic drugs units in at least 100 government hospitals in Assam and necessary funds would be released for construction of each unit in district and sub-divisiol hospitals.

The State Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma too reiterated in the same tone a couple of months back in Tinsukia. But the dilly-dallying attitude on the part of State Health Department not only cost the targeted people, the unscrupulous medicine dealers ruling the roost as generic medicines have captured the market owing to their high profitability.

According to government hospital sources here, the supply of generic drugs are idequate to meet the demands besides only a selective variety of drugs are being made available to the government hospitals, thus doctors are left with no choice but to prescribe branded drugs even as thousands of generic drugs manufactured in India by as many as 477 pharmaceutical companies both multi-tiol and tiol many of which are perhaps either not listed with Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) of Department of Pharmaceuticals, Government of India that procure drugs under Jan Aushadhi Yojo for onward supply to Government hospitals or ostensibly avoid participating in e-tender process.

A source in pharmaceutical industry said a vast majority of generic drugs having different pricing policy are pushed directly into stockiest and retailers with 450 to 500 per cent ‘profit’ margins where MRP price is just 10-15 per cent less than branded counterparts.

A generic drug is identical or bioequivalent to a brand-me drug in dosage, form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics and intended use and as safe and effective as its brand-me counterpart.

In contrast to generic drugs produced in developed countries under strict control of quality guidelines and help saving to consumers 30 to 80 per cent, in India the pharmaceutical industries barring few common generic medicines including aceclofec, paracetamol antibiotics like amoxycillin and insulin etc which are listed in 615 entries of BPPI, the quality control of the rest, which are available and being flooded in the market like Chinese productshave been doubted by the local pharmacists here.

In local scerio, private practitioners outnumber government doctors, the former hardly prescribe generic drugs as there are no lucrativeincentives from the companies, even if they prescribe branded drugs when customers approach pharmacists they allegedly push generic drug on the plea of non-availability. According to a source, the stockiest of generic medicines usually practice bulk supply to PSU hospitals, rural areas and tea gardens with huge profit margins. As generic drugs belong to non-promotiol products with doctors and medical representatives having been kept out of its purview, the cost of production and packaging does not exceed even 20 per cent of the MRP price, said an area mager of a reputed pharmaceutical company.

The pertinent point is how far the BJP-led State government has been sincere enough to promote generic medicines among common masses at a time when stockiest and retailers with varieties of generic medicines have been minting money from gullible commoners. Secondly, why the health department does not procure variety of need-based drugs in sufficient quantity from BPPI? In an advanced country like USA, millions of people are using generics to treat a variety of medical conditions, including infection, heart disease and cancer and reducing health care costs while receiving same quality of care.

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