Despite repeated assertions and directives by Medical Council of India (MCI) and government agencies to make doctors prescribe low-cost generic drugs to patients, the directives remain still on papers much to the chagrin of common man.
In the absence of stringent regulations, lack of awareness and misconception about using low-cost medicines, pharma companies are encouraged to connive with medical practitioners, both in government and private hospitals and clinics, to sell their brands to gullible patients at much higher prices.
“Thanks to the strong lobby by the influential multi-national drug companies, which account for over 90 per cent of drug distribution in India, supported by doctors and medical stores, generic medicines still remain a far-cry for the poor in India. High medicine cost and huge hospitalisation bills push many families into deep debt. In the absence of accountability and stringent regulations, doctors are at their own freewill to prescribe branded drugs, which cost much higher than generic drugs, to hapless patients, who have no option but to buy such medicines even if that means draining their lifetime savings,” said Ankur Agarwal, CEO, MedKart Pharmacy, of Ahmedabad, who has been spearheading a campaign to promote life-saving low-cost generic medicines in India.
Flouting of MCU rules
The government recently came out strongly on doctors for taking patients for a ride by prescribing them costly medicines instead of low cost variants. The Chemicals and Fertilizers ministry is said to be in consultation with Health ministry to draw up a proposal to rein in on errant medicos who refuse to prescribe generic medicines, and pharmacists, who don’t stock low-cost generics.
“Not all medicos flout MCI rules and help multi-national companies to fill their coffers, but unfortunately majority of them do. They should stop entertaining touts and medical reps around their workplaces and promote generic medicines for the welfare of patients. To bring defaulters to book, laws should be suitably amended to make it punishable if doctors write brand names instead of generics, with an exception to patented drugs,” said Ankur.
Another problem the Indian generic market faces is people’s mindset. As most of them are used to having branded medicines all along, they often find it uncomfortable to ask doctors to prescribe generic names.
“People hesitate to ask their physicians for generics instead of branded medicines, and doctors too, in general, don’t entertain such practice. However, the Constitution has given them the right to ask for generic medicines. Sadly, the awareness level among people on generics is abysmally low. For most of the patients, even among urban folks, ‘generics’ still remains an alien. It is time people understand their rights to demand low-cost medicines,” added Ankur.
“There is also a strong misconception among people that cheap generic medicines are ineffective and only branded and costly medicines are safe for consumption. However, it has been proved by studies, both in Indiaand abroad, that generics are as effective and same in every aspect as compared to patented or branded counterparts promoted by pharma companies,” explains Ankur.
Unfortunately, doctors and pharmaceutical companies capitalize this belief to promote their brands, which are sometime 10 times costlier than low-cost alternatives.
“In plain terms, except for patented medicine, almost all branded medicines have generic alternatives available in the market. These medicines contain the same chemicals as of branded ones and are approved by appellate medical boards concerned for safety and health,” asserts Ankur, who appeals to the medical fraternity to come out in support of generic medicines for the welfare of poor patients.
About MedKart Pharmacy:
Medkart Pharmacy is a leading generic medicine store which guides patients to get low-cost and quality generic alternatives from the best pharmaceutical companies following international quality standards. In the last 18 months alone, MedKart has helped over 35000 patients to save over Rs 8 crore by switching to generics. The purpose of launching Medkart was not just to spread the idea and availability of generic drugs among people but also ignite a campaign against doctors who are forcing patients to buy the prescribed branded medicines. Medkart, which has an exhaustive list of medicines, also offers online support to find the most authentic generic medicine with complete details. – PRNewswire