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AIOCD urges govt to protect the rights of patients to choose between generic and branded drugs

Peethaambaran Kunnathoor, Chennai
Saturday, September 2, 2023, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Raising concern over the National Medical Commission (NMC)’s call for generic prescription by the doctors, the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) has said that it is the patients' rights to choose between generic and branded medications and that right has to be protected.

AIOCD, which claims to have more than 10 lakh traders across the country, has informed the Union health minister that it is the government's responsibility to uphold the patients’ rights and to maintain the doctors' prescription responsibility.

Under the leadership of J S Shinde, president of the AIOCD, its general secretary, Rajiv Singhal, organising secretary, Sandeep Nangia, joint secretary, Vaidyanth Jaguste, along with prominent industry leaders, met Union health minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya and explained to him the market situations.

AIOCD has claimed that the NMC has withdrawn the guidelines for generic prescription because of the trade body's intervention.

He said the pharmaceutical business in the country was built by the joint efforts of the pharmaceutical industry and the trade sector. But, prescribing what medication should be consumed by a patient is the responsibility of the medical professionals. This responsibility of the prescribers is always supported by the AIOCD.

Sharing information with Pharmabiz, Rajiv Singhal said there is concern that market monopolies may come up largely in the medicine market provided generic prescription is made compulsory as big corporates like Amazon, Reliance and Tata are likely to enter into generic market. Besides, there are chances of potential contradiction between guidelines allowing doctors to sell non-generic medicines and the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. He said it is the duty of the NMC to maintain the pivotal role of the doctors in patient care to prevent self-medication habits.

AIOCD foresees the danger that the market will be flooded with substandard generic drugs as there will be lack of consistent checks on generic production. Further, generic version of all medicines is not available always. Even today there is no mechanism to ensure the quality of all medicines produced in India. In such a pathetic scenario how can the quality of all generic medicines be checked. Urgent attention is also required to verify the quality of APIs used for the preparation of formulations.

Meanwhile, Dr R V Asokan, the national president-elect of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), who will take charge of the association in December this year, has commented that the NMC has actually overstepped its mandate because management of healthcare of the people is the duty of the government. The NMC has overstepped in an area where it has little expertise. It is pertinent to note that the prescription habit of the doctors is influenced by the personal experiences of the clinicians and it varies from one doctor to another. The NMC should provide priority for the patient care and affordability of drugs. He said the ripple effect as pointed out by the industry and traders causing shortages of drugs in the market should be properly understood by the NMC. There is a team-work comprising industry, traders and prescribers existing in the country to provide affordable healthcare to the people, which should not be wrecked by NMC, said Dr Asokan who previously served as the national general secretary of the IMA.


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