Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) has called for a law mandating doctors to prescribe cheaper generic drugs instead of costly branded medicines.
“Unless a legal framework is put in place, the push for generic drugs will remain an idea without implementation,” said DAK President Dr Nisar ul Hassan.
“It is well within the competence of Jammu and Kashmir (JK) to bring its own legislation due to the constitutional position of the state,” he said.
He said the law will make drugs affordable to poor people who are not able to buy expensive brand-name drugs.
“More than 30 lakh people in JK do not have access to medicines due to lack of purchasing power,” he informed.
Dr Nisar said while use of generic drugs has increased over time, in JK doctors continue to dole out expensive branded drugs when equally effective and cheaper versions are available.
“For writing costly branded medicines pharma companies provide doctors everything from luxury cars, family trips to household items,” he said adding that “even the chemist shops get huge margins for selling branded medicines.”
Dr Nisar said there is a deep-rooted nexus between doctors and pharma companies that is keeping generic drugs away from poor patients.
“The nexus is misleading people about generic drugs that is preventing these drugs from getting popular,” he added.
“Generic drugs are copycat versions of branded drugs and cost 80 to 90 per cent less than branded medicines as manufacturers do not have to spend on development and promotion of the drug.
Lyrica, the drug used for nerve problems, costs Rs 842 for a strip of 14 tablets whereas its generic version costs a meager Rs 70. Another branded drug, Glivec used for treating blood cancer is sold at a monthly cost of Rs 1.2 lakh while its generic version is sold at Rs 8000 only,” said Dr Nisar.