Prescription can have brand name of drugs, says Govt.

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Notwithstanding the brouhaha over generic medicines, doctors will not be prohibited from writing popular brand names of medicines in prescriptions, government officials have clarified.

The government is in no position to make it mandatory for the doctors to write only generic names, as there are multiple legal and technical challenges, officials in the pharmaceuticals department said.

The generic versus branded medicine debate intensified following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent comments which suggested that the government was considering legal steps to make it mandatory for doctors to write generic names in prescriptions.

The government is now aiming to encourage doctors to write both. “We are promoting generic medicines. But we are not banning the writing of brand name of a medicine,” said Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers Ananth Kumar.

Kumar has been pushing for the establishment of ‘Janaushadhi’ stores to sell top quality generic medicines. The existing law doesn’t allow a pharmacist to substitute a drug apart from what is written in the prescription.

“It’s impossible to transfer legal authority of a doctor to a chemist or pharmacist, who need not even have to see the patient before handing over the medicine. Who would be responsible if a doctor prescribes a particular brand of generic medicine and the pharmacist gives a poor quality one, leading to clinical complications,” former consultant to the World Health Organisation (WHO) C M Gulhati told DH.

The idea of widespread use of generic medicine was first proposed by the Hathi Committee in the 1970s, but the proposal could not be implemented due to stiff opposition from the industry. The margins for branded generic drugs are in the range of 201-1016%, according to a study conducted by the Delhi University in 2010.

Kumar said the number of ‘Janaushadhi’ stores has gone up to 1,320 from 88 in 2014.

Source:Kalyan Ray, DH News Service, New Delhi, May 13 2017, 1:04 IST

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