Patients buy costly branded medicines
GUWAHATI: Majority of doctors in Assam don't prescribe generic drugs, thereby forcing patients to purchase the costly branded medicines.
Even though the State Health department has been appealing to the pharmacists to ignore the prescriptions of branded medicines, the pharmacists are in a fix as the majority of doctors don't prescribe generic drugs. In 2017, the Medical Council of India (MCI) had asked the doctors across the country to prescribe generic medicines.
Branded drugs are medicines which have a name given to them by a company for the purpose of advertising. A generic drug is a pharmaceutical drug that contains the same chemical substance as a drug that was originally protected by chemical patents. Generic drugs are allowed for sale after the patents on the original drugs expire.
When contacted, several doctors at the Gauhati Medical College & Hospital (GMCH), Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital (MMCH) and private hospitals cited various reasons including lack of clear guidelines from the State Health department, for not prescribing generic drugs.
"Till the time production and marketing of branded drugs is allowed in India, their prescription cannot be banned in any part of the country. The branded drugs can be banned only after the government stops issuing licences for their production. Before the government makes generic drugs mandatory, it must ensure adequate production and availability of quality generic drugs and stop production of branded drugs (except patented drugs) completely," said a senior doctor at GMCH.
The doctor added that since the generic drugs are not available in majority of pharmacies there is no option but to prescribe branded medicines of different companies.
Another doctor said that the MIC's notification in 2017 stated that every physician should prescribe generic legibly and preferably in capital letters.
"The MCI's notification isvague as to whether doctors should 'only' prescribe the generic drugs. At the same time, it does not prohibit a doctor from writing the branded drugs. Prescribing drugs with generic names only means writing chemical name of the drug. I am hugely confused as to whether I should prescribe generic or branded medicines to my patients since neither the MCI nor the Health department has clarified the issue so far," added the doctor.
Many are, however, not convinced with the explanation and reasons given by doctors to prescribe branded drugs. "Big medicines companies lure doctors to prescribe branded doctors. These companies offer various costly gifts including sponsoring domestic and foreign trips to doctors," alleged a former senior marketing official at a top pharmaceutical company.