Saturday, January 26, 2013

MCI directs doctors to prescribe generics

Generic medicine sales get a booster dose

Rupali Mukherjee, TNN | Jan 26, 2013, 02.24AM IST

MUMBAI: Bollywood actor Aamir Khan's strong pitch for generic
medicines may finally bear fruit. The Medical Council of India which
regulates the doctor fraternity and promotes ethical standards, has
directed doctors, hospitals and medical colleges to prescribe generic
medicines as far as possible. Generic medicines are more affordable
versions of branded medicines sold by companies.

In its directive sent out on January 21 to dean/principals of medical
colleges, director of hospitals, presidents of all state medical
councils, the MCI has said that every physician should, as far as
possible, prescribe drugs with generic names and ensure that there is
a rational prescription and use of drugs. All doctors registered under
the MCI Act have been asked to comply with the directive.

Though the directive may not be a direct fallout of the actor's
efforts, it did turn the spotlight on the issue. Over the last couple
of years, there have been a slew of efforts taken by the government to
end the doctor-pharma nexus, stem unethical practices and bring down
prices of medicines. When contacted, MCI chairman K K Talwar said :
"The directive is a bid to educate the medical community, including
doctors and make them aware about the increased availability of
generic drugs and to make them more affordable as well. We need to
instill confidence in people about the use (generic versions)".

Though the government has opened retail stores, which market generic
medicines — Jan Aushadhi — in certain states, availability of quality
generic medicines is a huge concern.

Doctors are of the view that quality drugs should be prescribed. Says
Dr Anoop Misra, chairman Fortis Centre of excellence for diabetes,
metabolic diseases and endocrinology: "For patient-benefit and best
possible results, highest quality drugs with best possible
pharmacological properties should be used by all doctors. If quality
of generic drugs is up to high standards, doctors should prescribe
generic medicines".

Industry experts however said the move may not benefit patients as it
may not lead to a significant price reduction. Says Indian
Pharmaceutical Alliance, secretary general D G Shah: "If the
government is able to ensure the quality of generic medicines, then it
will be beneficial. Patients are not aware the quality of medicines,
and will have to depend on chemists. It may lead to a chemist-pharma
nexus from the much-discussed nexus between pharma companies and

Last year in a bid to promote generic medicines, the health ministry
ordered states to stop issuing licences in brand names. The move has
not benefitted patients as companies continue to market the medicines
in brand names.

Also, concerned with increasing complaints of unethical marketing
practices, the department of pharmaceuticals initiated an exercise to
introduce a code of conduct for the pharma industry. The code of
conduct has not been finalised as yet.

Dr P Vyasamoorthy
30 Gruhalakshmi Colony Secunderabad 500015 Ph 040-27846631 / 9490804278

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