The government is also considering a proposal to allow pharmacists to sell a generic version of a drug if the doctor prescribes the branded alternative
New Delhi: To increase the affordability of generic medicines and to provide low-cost benefits to consumers, the government is soon going to make it compulsory for pharmacies to display generic medicines clearly on separate shelves so that consumers can go for low-cost alternatives to costly branded drugs.
According to the minutes of a meeting held on 12 February 2018, the members of the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) deliberated the matter and agreed to keep a separate rack/shelf reserved solely for the storage of “Generic Medicines” in a part of the premises separated from other medicines, which shall be visible to the consumers.
Two people aware about the matter told Mint that the government is also considering a proposal to allow pharmacists to sell a generic version of a drug if the doctor prescribes the branded alternative and also added that the change is likely to take some time as it requires amendments to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
A senior official in the health ministry told Mint, “DTAB decided to take a step forward by allowing the pharmacists keep a separate rack to promote generic drugs.”
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that a modification to Rule 96 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act had been approved by the Drug Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) that sought changes in the labeling of drugs to boost generic drugs as Rule 96 deals with the manner of labeling drugs in order to promote generic medicines.
The government has been promoting generic drugs for a while now and its efforts gained momentum with Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing plans to put in place a legal framework in April last year to ensure doctors prescribe generic medicines.
The Medical Council of India (MCI) had also issued orders in 2016 to all central and state government hospitals asking them to ensure that doctors write out prescriptions with generic names of medicines.
“Medicines account for 70-75% of a household’s out-of-pocket expenditure on health. While generic medicines are also good quality medicines and cost much less, the doctor-chemist nexus often pushes people into buying more expensive alternatives,” a person told Mint.
In order to push the generic medicine, the Draft Pharmaceutical Policy last year had proposed that the public procurement and dispensing of medicines should be of generic drugs bearing the names of salts. “Branded generic drugs are currently sold like other patented medicines, with their brand names displayed on the packaging. A manufacturer will only be allowed to stamp the company name and the generic name on the packaging and not the brand name,” the draft had proposed.