Health authorities in Andhra Pradesh have asked government doctors in the State to prescribe only generic drugs and avoid the practice of writing brand names in the prescription.
The move is aimed at helping patients avail themselves of free drugs for a wide range of ailments in government hospitals. It is also expected to bring down, for the government, the cost of procuring the drugs.Prescribing branded drugs is a common practice among doctors in government hospitals in the State. However, as these are usually not available in the free drug stores in government hospitals, patients are forced to pay large sums of money to procure the prescribed drug from private drug stores.
“This will help patients because they will be able to avail themselves of drugs for various ailments free of cost from government drug stores. We should promote generic drugs,” says T. Ravi Raju, Director of Medical Education.
Recently, the State Principal Secretary, Health, had written to government doctors requesting that they promote generic drugs.
“Ideally, drugs in government stores should be of good quality, and there should also be better quality control. Doctors should have confidence in the potency of generic drugs supplied from [the hospital's] drug stores,” says senior Nephrologist, Gandhi Hospital, Pradeep Deshpande.
For instance, paracetamol is a generic name but is sold under various brand names and the cost ranges from Rs.5 to Rs.35. Several brands for the anti-malarial drug, chloroquine, are available in the market.
Doctors also point out that the potency of generic drugs should be unquestionable. “Doctors should have enough confidence on the generic drug, and only then should they prescribe it. Such a move can take off only when there is a thorough analysis of drug potency,” said senior chest physician, Erragadda Chest Hospital here, K. Subhakar.