Govt Hospitals to Prescribe Generic Drugs
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10 May 2010
By Teena Thacker
New Delhi, India
Random checks to ensure compliance; Health Ministry directive will cut down prices without curtailing efficacy
N A move that will help bring down healthcare costs, the Union Health Ministry has directed central government–run hospitals to prescribe only generic drugs from now on.
“Henceforth, medical practitioners will have to prescribe only generic drugs as far as possible and not branded drugs,” a se nior Health Ministry official said. To ensure the directive is complied with, the ministry will do random checks of hospitals.
The directive will soon be issued to state government–run hospitals as well.
The move is significant as according to a 2008 WHO estimate, 65 per cent Indians do not have access to modern healthcare.
India, the official said, manufactures generic drugs in most therapeutic categories but most of these medicines are sold as branded drugs, making them costlier. The directive will reduce the cost of these drugs without affecting their efficacy.
The ministry has also proposed that hospitals set up ‘Jan Aushadhi’ stores–to be run by the hospital or NGOs–to make generic drugs available to patients.
The government will provide Rs 2.50 lakh in two installments–Rs 2 lakh at the beginning and Rs 50,000 once it is func tional ¿ to help set up the stores, but they have to be run on a “self–sustaining model, with no profits or with minimal profits”. “It was seen that doctors and pharma companies were colluding to cheat patients. This (no self–sustaining model) will curb the practice of physicians prescribing drugs motivated by pharma companies,” the official said. Te nders for setting up the stores will be issued soon.
Many doctors say two issues need to be taken care of before the directive is implemented. One, “there should be a system to check that generics maintain a quality control,” said a senior doctor at AIIMS, who did not want to be named. Tw o, “there are certain generic medicines which do not work as well as the branded ones”. “In fact, in AIIMS, for our own use and the staff’s use, certain generics are not prescribed, instead branded ones are preferred,” the doctor said.