Doctors ignoring directive to prescribe generic drugs

Regulation has only become a matter of contention

Doctors ignoring directive to prescribe generic drugs
Doctors in the city are barely paying any heed to the Centre’s advice to prescribe generic medicines instead of branded ones.

In April last year, the Medical Council of India advised doctors to prescribe medicines using generic names such as ‘paracetamol’ and not brand names such as ‘Panadol’ or ‘Calpol’. Generic drugs are way cheaper, by up to 95% in some cases, and the government says poor patients will benefit from the practice.

The regulation has become a matter of contention, although doctors aren’t confronting the government. They say they are ready to prescribe generic drugs but that would allow pharmacists to sell brands they want to promote and profit from. But many pharmacists DH spoke to said doctors weren’t prescribing generic drugs at all in the first place.

Dr K S Manjunath, medical superintendent, Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital, said, “It is a good move, but it should be holistically translated into action. Generic drugs are safe only when they are manufactured by reputed companies. Specialised antibiotics are not available in generic form, and only basic drugs are accessible now.”

Dr Ramakrishna Prasad, consultant and specialist in family medicine at St Philomena's Hospital, said, “If the pharmacist provides a brand of his choice, quality is not assured, and that may put the patient at risk.”

Dr Divakar Bhat, cardiac surgeon at Mallya Hospital, said, “For doctors it is easy, but the worry is, will the chemist know the generic names? Pharmacists mostly remember brand names. Doctors shouldn’t be held responsible if the dispensing is wrong and leads to adverse effects.”

Some brands are a combination of drugs, so if three drug names are written, pharmacists may not be able to provide all three in one formulation, he said.

Got back to brand names

A pharmacist near a popular hospital in Vivek Nagar said, “Doctors wrote the generic names for a day or two after the directive was issued, but soon got back to brand names.”

Pharmacists in some other parts of the city said they hadn’t come across prescriptions with generic names.

Where are generics available?

As things stand, generic drugs are available only at government-run Jan Aushadhi outlets. In Karnataka, such pharmacies are located on the premises of government-run hospitals, such as Victoria Hospital in Bengaluru. The government plans to open more Jan Aushadhi outlets.

Call ‘104’ to complain

Dr Shalini Rajneesh, principal secretary of Karnataka’s health department, said, “If any doctor fails to prescribe generic drugs, people can raise complaints by dialling 104.”

The directive on writing generic name prescriptions applies both to government and private doctors.

The government wants to start more Jan Aushadhi outlets. “We have advertised in the districts for B Pharm graduates. One pharmacist will be selected from each district to start Jan Aushadhi outlets,” she told DH.

 

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