9 months on, drug policy awaits implementation

Nexus Between Doctors, Pharma Companies Creating Hurdles: Minister

Greater Kashmir / AKSHAY AZAD
Publish Date: Oct 12 2012 12:00PM

Jammu, Oct 11: The J&K Government seems to have pushed the much-hyped State Drug Policy—awaiting implementation for the past nine months—to the backburner as it is still indecisive over the constitution of crucial State Drug Committee, a monitoring and regulatory body to oversee the introduction of generic medicines in the state.
Highly placed sources said that “strong drug mafia” having nexus with the medical practitioners is using its influence to scuttle the implementation of the policy that envisages introduction of generic drugs in place of the branded ones.
“While the new drug policy will greatly benefit the common man, the introduction of generic drugs would also deal a severe blow to the drug mafia that has flourished in the state in the past one decade in connivance with doctors and paramedics,” they said.
As per the new drug policy approved in January this year, the Department of Health and Medical Education has to appoint the ‘State Drug Committee’ to be entrusted with the responsibility of preparing and subsequently updating the essential drug lists after every two years. “The committee is yet to be formulated despite the fact that only 350 essential drugs have been included in the drug policy,” the sources said.
Even as the Policy envisaging introduction of generic drugs has been approved by the government, doctors in all government hospitals are still prescribing trademark names of drugs instead of prescribing salts.
“The failure of the government in implementing the policy in letter and spirit reflects that it seems to be succumbing to the pressure of the drug mafia running in nexus with doctors,” the sources said.
Experts said the delay in implementing the policy has defeated the very objective of the initiative, which was appreciated by one and all.
Doctors posted in the state government hospitals maintain that they have not received any official communication about the new drug policy and thus no one was following it.
While only 350 drugs have been approved under the new policy, there is unbridled sale of thousands of drugs which have been barred under the Drug Policy primarily in the wake of any enforcement or monitoring authority, sources said.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, the Minister for Health Sham Lal Sharma said the Government has decided to amend the procurement norms to facilitate introduction of generic drugs through departmental supplies. “After the introduction of generic medicines in government hospitals, we will instruct doctors to prescribe only generic drugs to give relief to common masses,” he said, adding that the process for formation of the State Drug Committee is on.
Admitting the nexus between doctors and pharmaceutical companies was creating hurdles in the implementation of drug policy, Sharma said that “due to this nexus many doctors are still prescribing trademark names of medicines instead of salts.”