Several generic drugs not available at AIIMS pharmacy, say patients

Patients at the free pharmacy of AIIMS said on Thursday that several prescribed medicines, which are supposedly listed under the generic medicines to be provided for free by the hospital, were not available there.

The AIIMS authorities, however, said the pharmacy was well stocked with the free generic drugs. The pharmacy, which was inaugurated almost two months back, stocks around 200 generic drugs, according to Dr Amit Gupta, AIIMS spokesperson. OPD patients have access to these free drugs.

A generic drug is a pharmaceutical product that is manufactured without a licence from the innovator company and marketed after the expiry date of the patent. These drugs are as effective as brand-name drugs, but usually much cheaper.

“I did not get five of the seven medicines prescribed for my treatment. The doctor had said these will be available at the free pharmacy. We cannot afford to buy the medicines from outside,” said Rajesh Devi, who had come from Bulandshahar in UP. Devi is being treated there for breast cancer.

Patients suffering from orthopaedic, skin and psychiatric problems also complained that in spite of doctors referring them to the free pharmacy for medicines, several drugs were not available.

“The attendants here told me the capsules prescribed are out of stock. I have to get these from outside. But I am not worried as these medicines come cheap,” said Mathura Dutt, who is suffering from a psychiatric disorder.

Badri Ram from Bihar was, however, clueless how to manage the cost of seven ‘expensive’ medicines prescribed for his 18-year-old daughter. “My daughter underwent a surgery two weeks back. During today’s check-up, the doctor said I can get these medicines for free. But the attendants at the pharmacy said these can only be bought from outside.” 

The pharmacy, which is managed by HLL Lifecare Limited, has set up an assistance counter. Unlike Delhi government hospitals, patients do not have to wait in a queue to know if the medicines prescribed are available. Attendants were seen promptly guiding patients on the availability of medicines.

“We immediately take note of the drug which in spite of being listed as a free generic drug is unavailable for patients. The authorities make sure these medicines are in stock in the next two days.

But people often think all drugs are covered in the list,” said a pharmacy attendant, on the condition of anonymity. Dr Amit Gupta, AIIMS spokesperson said, “The hospital pharmacy is always well stocked of 200 free generic drugs. Doctors cannot only prescribe medicines that come under this ambit as it would impede proper treatment. Patients often get confused as they think all the medicines will be provided for free. Beyond the 200 medicines listed as free drugs, the remaining have to be bought from outside.” 

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