Recently, the government has asked the doctors to prescribe generic medicines in place of branded drugs. The merits of this decisions are many, for instance-
- it will bring down drug prices and expand access to affordable health solutions.
- It will free hundreds of households from the phenomena of medical poverty trap.
- The nexus between doctors and pharma companies will be disincentivized.
- With the promotion of generic drug consumption, the growth engine of indian economy in general and of generic industry in particular will keep rolling at high pace.
However, the compulsory prescription has certain demerits as well.
- Generics are found to be of substandard quality in many cases. And hence there are concerns of efficacy of such drugs.
- No more than 1% of generic drugs sold in India undergo quality tests. There is also a lack of data integrity in generic firms which makes inspection and verification of drug quality extremely difficult.
- Poor hygiene standards of the manufacturing plant of generics also restricts them from being a good substitute for branded medicines.
- The process gives a lot of power into the hands of medicine shops and thus compromises patients safety.
Though the policy perspective should be welcomed, the loopholes need to be plugged as soon as possible. Ensuring the correctness of pharmacist, making the patients literate, increasing the number of drug inspectors and ensuring the efficacy of Medical Council of India could be few supplementary steps.