Doctors must help poor by prescribing Generic Drugs
Voice of The Reader

Doctors must help poor by prescribing Generic Drugs

June 17, 2024

Sir,

Generic drugs are mandatorily manufactured by several companies to provide affordable medicines to the public. Their actual price is just a fraction of that of proprietary drugs with brand names, varying from 10 to a maximum of 40 percent.

Imagine a patient suffering from diabetes or hypertension spending nearly a thousand rupees on proprietary drugs alone, apart from consultation and investigation charges.

Often, there is little difference between the printed MRP of generic drugs and proprietary drugs.

Exploiting this loophole, some pharmacists lure gullible customers with discounts, but most offer no more than 10 percent. Major drug dealers who buy drugs for as low as 10 rupees sell them at an MRP of 100 rupees minus 5 percent, resulting in enormous profit margin of  85 percent.

As a doctor, I can procure these medicines from wholesale dealers at just 10 rupees. Many retail pharmacists essentially rob their patients. I have verified this on multiple occasions at various medical stores.

To counter these malpractices, the Central Government introduced the concept of Jan Aushadhi almost a decade ago. The purpose was to provide genuinely low-cost medicines to patients.

The Government has several drugs manufactured by companies and prints the actual MRP on the sheets, ensuring no one can sell these medicines at higher prices. They have licenced specific outlets for   this purpose, with the stipulation that they will not sell drugs of other companies.

While there was initial enthusiasm, many of these Jan Aushadhi outlet owners have been cheating by selling other cheaper, lower-quality drugs, claiming irregular supply of Jan Aushadhi drugs.

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The commission offered by these companies is higher than that offered by Jan Aushadhi drug companies. Many regular patients fall into this trap, buy alternative drugs and suffer the consequences if they are of poor quality, which tarnishes the Government’s efforts to provide low-cost medicines.

Doctors are supposed to play a crucial role in promoting generic drugs. Unfortunately, many discourage patients from buying generic drugs by claiming that cheaper drugs are less effective.

Given the numerous companies, both small and large, that manufacture a variety of drugs with no active control over them, it is difficult to ascertain the genuineness of these companies. Even most doctors cannot distinguish between a generic and a proprietary drug without regularly prescribing the generic drug to know                                          its efficacy.

How can we mitigate these drawbacks? The Government should enforce laws requiring manufacturers to print the actual, rather than bloated, MRP.

All Government Hospitals should dispense only generic drugs from reputable companies, abandoning the practice of accepting the lowest of three quotations, as in many cases, a single supplier provides all three quotations.

Finally, we urgently need a change in the mindset of doctors, whose role in promoting generic drugs is crucial. I have been prescribing generic drugs for nearly two decades and find them very effective.

– Lt. Col. (Dr.) Y.N.I. Anand, Kuvempunagar, 11.6.2024

Note: The suggestion made in the penultimate para above that the Government Hospitals should dispense only generic drugs from reputable companies seems tweaked. This means to suggest that there is a difference in quality of the generic drugs manufactured by different companies and naturally there will be a difference in price.

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If so, the quotation should be invited for a specific kind of generic drug with specified quality only and accept the lowest of three quotations. The correspondent may clarify  this issue.—Ed

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