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Times Of India.
04 July 2012

Pharmacy Does It To Earn More Profit: Doctors

New Delhi: The AIIMS medicine store which claims to be giving medicines on 56% discount has come under scanner for allegedly substituting the medicines prescribed by doctors with other drugs to make more profit. The 24X7 store allegedly provides discount on generic versions with print rate almost as high as the branded ones.

For example, a lesser known generic version of sulbactum and cefoperazone (2g) – antibiotic for serious infections – is priced at Rs 525 (before the discount) while the company which owns research molecule sells it for Rs 598 without the discount. Several other generic drugs with the same molecule are available in the market for less than Rs 250 (minus the discount) only.

Doctors say the store has no authority to give substitute drugs on its own. "It is illegal and is being done only to earn more profits. They should tell the patient if a particular drug is not available. Or the institute can come up with a list of generic drugs which can be given as alternatives to the commonly prescribed medicines," a doctor said.

Though the AIIMS store was opened more than six months ago, the committee, as suggested by a high court order, to oversee its functioning is yet to be formed. The complaint or suggestion box has not been installed near the store either.

AIIMS spokesperson Dr Y K Gupta, who is also the head of the pharmacology department, said the committee is being s et up. He added that the complaints about unavailability of medicines and the issue of substitute drugs would also be looked into soon.

Khurshid Alam, a student of Jamia Milia Islamia University, who went to buy medicines for his mother undergoing treatment for pain in the cervical spine on Tuesday, alleged that out of the six prescribed drugs, five were unavailable at the store. "They gave me substitutes which have the same preparation but are sold with a different brand name. The pharmacist told me to either take their medicine or go to a private store. I bought them from the AIIMS store," said Alam. Another patient, Suman Kumar, alleged many prescribed drugs were not available at all.

Recently, AIIMS has decided to open two more pharmacy stores. Its doctors say strict regulation of the drug prescription and sale is required. "The plans to provide cheaper generic drugs with higher print rates under the garb of substitutes should not become a practice to make more profits," said a doctor. He added that while the government is focusing on generic prescription, it should also come up with mechanism to strictly monitor its pricing and quality.

Doctors say the store has no authority to give substitute drugs on its own

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