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AIIMS doctors told to write generic drugs

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NEW DELHI: All India Institute of Medical Sciences has issued a circular asking all doctors, consultants and residents to prescribe drugs by their generic names only. If someone chooses to prescribe the branded ones, he or she will have to give a justification, according to the order issued in the name of deputy secretary Sanjiv Chaturvedi. “All the doctors in AIIMS are hereby again advised to henceforth prescribe only generic medicines. In case a doctor wants to specifically prescribe a branded drug, he or she should have a justifiable reason.”

AIIMS recently started a pharmacy on the campus where patients are provided with free generic drugs through doctor’s prescription. Only generic medicines and those mentioned in the National List of Essential Medicines of India are available there. “We have seen that despite repeated circulars and notices, many doctors continue to prescribe costlier branded drugs. This practice has to stop. Prescribing generic drugs is important for reducing treatment cost,” said a senior AIIMS official. He said Medical Council of India has also stated the need for promoting generic medicine.

Prescription trends at some of the Delhi hospitals have revealed in the past that less than 35% drugs are prescribed by their generic name (chemical name). The rest are costlier branded medicines. The prices of generic drugs, which have the same therapeutic qualities, are significantly lower than their branded versions. For example, popular brands of paracetamol cost Rs 10 for a strip of 10 tablets (500 mg), whereas,its non-branded generic equivalent costs as less as Rs 2.45 for the same batch of tablets.

Still, branded drugs rule the roost. Ironically, India is one of the world’s largest exporters of generic drugs. It exports to over 200 countries, including the highly regulated markets of US, Europe, Japan and Australia.

Generic or non-patented drugs come in two versions. The first are those sold under their generic or chemical composition name, say paracetamol. The other is those sold by drug manufacturers under brand-names. Over 1000 pharma companies sell paracetamol under various names. One calls it crocin, another calls it lupisulide.

Doctors say their main concern about generic drugs is lack of uniformity of its quality and pricing. “Drug regulators should allow limited branded generics of a particular compound and ensure quality,” said a senior AIIMS doctor.

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