IMA objects to NMC’s guidelines on prescribing generic medicines

All brands should be either sold at the same price, which should be controlled or banned and only generics allowed while ensuring the highest quality of these drugs: IMA

Generic medicines

New Delhi: The National Medical Commission’s (NMC) guidelines, insisting medical practitioners to prescribe generic medicines only, don’t seem to have gone down well with the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Reacting to the NMC’s direction, IMA in a statement on Monday said: “The ill-advised steps taken by MC on the issue of generic drugs is an emergency. The regulation is mandatory for doctors to prescribe only generic drugs. It is a matter of great concern for IMA since this directly impacts patients’ care and safety. Generic promotion needs to be genuine. Running trains without tracks is how the present promotion of generic drugs by MC appears to be.” said IMA in its statement.

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The IMA said that the new guidelines will not be in the best interest of the patient. “NMC insists on its ethics guidelines to write prescriptions only in generic names. This measure is just shifting the choice from a medical practitioner, who is primarily concerned, trained and responsible for the patients’ health than a chemist/person sitting in chemist shop, who is selling drugs,” the statement noted.

It further stated that discontinuing the practice of prescribing specific medicines would wouldn’t be in the best interest of the patient. “Should we should refrain from just cost cutting irrespective of quality treatment? If doctors are not allowed to prescribe branded drugs, then why such drugs should be licensed at all, given that modern medicine drugs can be dispensed only on the prescription of doctors of this system,” IMA asked.

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The IMA has also said that the government, if serious about implementing generic drugs should give licence only to generics and not to any branded drugs while ensuring quality of generic drugs. Making quality brands available in the market but disallowing doctors who are responsible for patients’ health from prescribing them seems dubious, the statement said.

“The biggest impediment to generic drugs is the uncertainty about its quality. The quality control in the nation is very weak, there’s practically no guarantee of the quality of drugs and prescribing drugs without assured quality would be detrimental to patient health. Less than 0.1% of the drugs manufactured in India are tested for quality. This step should be deferred till the Government can assure the quality of all the drugs released into the market,” it said.

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The doctors’ body also urged the government to have ‘one drug, one quality, one price system.’ “IMA had been demanding for long that only good quality drugs should be made available in the country and prices should be uniform and affordable. All brands should be either sold at the same price, which should be controlled or banned and only generics allowed while ensuring the highest quality of these drugs. The present system will only put a huge dilemma in the minds of practitioners and cause unnecessary blaming of Medical Profession by the society,” IMA said in its statement.

IMA further demanded intervention by the Centre and NMC regarding guidelines,”The notification is an injustice to doctors who always hold the interest of their patients as non-negotiable. IMA demands the deferring of this Regulation for wider consultations by the Government of India and IMA also calls for serious and urgent intervention by Union Government and MC in this regard.”

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According to the new NMC guidelines, all doctors will mandatorily be required to prescribe generic drugs failing which they will be penalised and even their license to practice may also be suspended for a particular period. The MC in its notified ‘Regulations relating to Professional Conduct of Registered Medical Practitioners” also asked doctors to avoid prescribing branded generic drugs.

The regulations notified on August 2, stated, “India’s out-of-pocket spending on medications accounts for a major proportion of public spending on health care. Further, generic medicines are 30 per cent to 80 per cent cheaper than branded drugs. Hence, prescribing generic medicines may overtly bring down health care costs and improve access to quality care.”

Under the generic medicine and prescription guidelines of the regulations, the MC defined generic drugs a “drug product that is comparable to brand/reference listed product in dosage in dosage form, strength, route of administration, quality and performance characteristics, and intended use.

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