Of Writing Generic Names Of Drugs And Beyond
By Dr. Fayaz Ahmad Bhat
08 April, 2015
After a prolonged wait and pause Jammu and Kashmir Health and Medical department has finally brought into force ‘Drug Policy’ approved by Cabinet way back in 2012. The policy bans writing of brand names of drugs by medical practitioners and directs them (physicians) to write only generic names of drugs. As expected the order issued by the department has not gone well to physician community of valley. They (physicians) even threatened of an agitation against the move. It is here worth to mention that Medical Council of India (MCI) already noted that all the registered medical practitioners under the Medical Council Act should prescribe generic names of drugs. All IndiaInstitute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), a premier medical and health institute of the country hasalready the policy of MCI in affect. The circular of AIIMS noted that “generic medicines play a significant role in rational prescribing, reducing treatment costs and hence improving patient care”. The question here is why medical practitioners of valley are opposing the move? Why Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) threatened of an agitation? Are physicians of valley so bombastic and scholarly that only they know and understand negatives of the policy? The answer to these questions is sad and heart piercing and demonstrates the poor and ailing health care of valley.
The prescription of branded names of medicines brings many illegal incentives and benefits to medical practitioners. Pharmacy companies pump a lot of money and keep separate budget for promoting their brands by corrupting medical practitioners. National and international tours, “gifting” of sophisticated electronic gadgets and home appliances and offer of luxurious cars is part and parcel this illegal and immoral trade. The valley of Kashmir is perhaps at the forefront in this “trade”, that is why medical practitioners collectively through DAK not only opposed the move but threatened of an agitation.In a recent chit chat with a medical representative I learnt that one of the valley’s so called best Gynecologist received “Duster” (luxurious car) from a medical company for prescribing their brands.
The ban on prescription of branded names of medicines is a welcome move. It is believed that the move will brought an end to this immoral, unethical and illegal practice besides reducing treatment costs and improving patient care. However, the policy needs to be looked from holistic view. It should not government’s policy ofbreaking a knot of marriages of a woman (patients) with husband (medical practitioner) cruel and unjust without anticipating the unintended tie of the woman (patient) with a husband (chemist) more dangerous and fateful.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir needed a clear, strict and honest drug policy that will streamline the medicine procurement and checking the influx of spurious drugs in the State. There is much need and scope for more steps in stopping the menace. Government has to think something different and go beyond to ban writing brand names of drugs. The concerns expressed by experts needed to be heard.Although the move of the government is praiseworthy and appreciable but only ban on writing branded names of drugs cannot improve the ailing state of health and medical department in the state.It may evenworsen the situation. The policy can worsen the condition in the state and create enough space and vacuum for sale of spurious drugs in the state. The policy will give free hands to chemists and druggists to sell spurious and third rated drugs. There will be no bar on them (chemist) how and where to cut the throats of common masses. Restricting doctors to prescribe medicines of particular companies no doubt means to restrict them from favoring any specific companies but what about chemists? What about doctorswho do run private clinics? They may prescribe there by salt name but they will sell what favours them.There are medicinesavailablein the market which is relatively cheaper than branded drugs. These drugs actually cost very less to chemists and druggists but maximum retail price (MRP) on these drugs is much higher, Nicip (Nimsulide) of Cipla pharmaceuticals a multinational company is just an instance. The strip of ten tablets justcosts RS Five to Eight to chemists but MRPof the same is Rs 27 per strip. The same salt of the registered brands cost Rs 11 to 13 per strip to patients (Refer to Nimca of Ipca and Nimsulide of Mankind Pharma). But medical practitioners seldom prescribe these brands. Druggists and chemists earn 20 to 25% in branded drugs but greed is marring every one. Here I have just cited an example of pain killer or antipyretic and anti inflammatory drug. When we analyse the case of antibiotics and tonics it is the worst.
My very humble request to government is to bring the drug policy into full force but don’t let chemists and druggists to cut the throats of people. Bring a mechanism into place which will ensure that benefit and compensation will go to people and there would be no forced marriage of people with chemists. I also urge doctors to come forward and create awareness among people and policy makers and don’t oppose the move but make it more transparent and vibrant.Take the lead from Dr. SunauallahKutchay, a prominent oncologist besides a good human being who welcomed the order and called it people friendly.
When pesticides companies are obliged to fulfill certain formalities and procedures and testify standard and qualityof pesticides before making the same available in the markets of the state. Why can’t they(government) come with same policy for pharmaceutical companies even strict than this. After all it is an issue concerned to human lives.
Dr.Fayaz Ahmad Bhat is a student of Sociology,socia lactivist,teaching Sociology at Government Degree College,Banihal,India.He is an alumnus of Jamia Millia Islamia.
Comments are moderated