July 07, 2010

Doctors told to keep prescriptions ‘generic’

Doctors in Delhi’s government-owned hospitals and clinics will have to prescribe medicines by their generic name (chemical name) and not by the costlier brands of a particular company. “The officers of Drugs Control Department have been instructed to monitor the prescriptions issued by doctors in hospitals and dispensaries under Delhi government,” a directive of the state government issued earlier this month said. As per the Delhi government’s website, it runs about 30 hospitals in the city state.

Prices of generic drugs which have the same thereupatic qualities are significantly lower than their branded versions. For example popular brands of paracetamol, used to treat headache, cost Rs 10 for a strip of 10 tablets (500 mg). Its non-branded generic equivalent costs as less as Rs 2.45 for the same batch of tablets.

Unlike other consumer products, patients cannot choose from different brands or don’t know their generic equivalent. They buy only the particular brand the doctor prescribes. Drug companies spend huge amounts of money to promote their brands and convince doctors to prescribe their product over others. In return, doctors are given lucrative gifts and incentives, an unethical practice the government is trying to address separately.

The Delhi government’s move follows similar steps by the union health ministry and the state government of Rajasthan. Last month, the union health ministry asked all central government hospitals and autonomous institutions to mandatorily mention the generic name of a drug when they prescribe a medicine.

“This will curb the often observed practice of prescribing specific brands of medicine with a rider that no substitute should be supplied,” a union health ministry statement said. The Delhi government directive has also asked state-run hospitals and dispensaries to open more generic drug stores under the Union government’s Jan Aushadhi programme. Under the initiative launched last year medicine outlets in the hospitals will sell low-cost version of drugs. The move is a step towards the governments’ plan to reduce the cost of healthcare.

Link: Original Article

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