Modi govt plan on generic drugs makes pharma companies, doctors jittery

The Narendra Modi govt is planning to bring law to make doctors compulsorily prescribe generic drugs

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To make health care affordable in the country, the Narendra Modi-led central government is looking to make it mandatory for doctors to prescribe generic drugs. As reported earlier, the health ministry, in line with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s Union Budget announcement, has started work on amending the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

ALSO READ: Budget impact: Drug firms may be forced to market generics, not brands

After the Act has been amended, doctors will not be allowed to mention brand names in their prescriptions. Instead, they will have to mention the generic name of a drug. The prime minister’s Monday announcement on this has made the pharmaceutical industry jittery. Generic drugs’ share of the market, 80 per cent at present (20 per cent is accounted for by branded and patented drugs), is expected to go up to 90 per cent in the next three years.

The managing director of a domestic pharmaceutical company who does not wish to be named says the move is a serious one and will shift the thrust from quality to price.

Some industry veterans view this from the angle of marketing ethics. Veeramani, formerly the president of the Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association (IDMA), says the move will keep a check on doctors and ensure the medical fraternity doesn’t favour any company. However, he fears the problem will now shift from the doctor’s desk to the chemist’s. “Now, (since the doctor will mention only the generic name of a drug on the prescription), the chemist might sell medicines that suit him the best. He might push those that yield him better profits.” There are over 800,000 chemists in India.

The pharma industry, meanwhile, does not seem enthused. Industry players believe the idea will complicate things for doctors and be very difficult to implement. Doctors may face difficulty in prescribing combination drugs or medicines with multiple ingredients, analysts say. (readmore…)

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