'Over 24 lakh in J&K can't afford medicines due to high cost'; DAK advocates prescription of generic drugs

Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Friday urged doctors in Jammu and Kashmir to prescribe generic drugs instead of branded medicines.

President DAK, Dr Nisar ul Hassan said the move would make drugs accessible to poor patients who are otherwise not able to buy expensive branded medicines.

He said that generic medicines are copycat versions of branded drugs and are equal to their branded counterparts in terms of strength, quality, efficacy and safety even as they “cost 80 to 90 percent less than the branded medicines as manufactures do not have to spend on the development and promotion of the drug”.

The DAK President claimed that more than 24 lakh people in J&K do not have access to medicines due to lack of purchasing power.

As per Dr Nisar, “majority of the cancer patients die for want of treatment because they cannot afford expensive branded drugs”.

Generic drugs, he said, make treatment affordable for cancer patients and, as a result, save lives.

The DA president also quoted research work he said “has shown that generic drugs significantly reduce deaths among cancer patients”.

“Two studies published in the Lancet Medical Journal have found that the use of two inexpensive generic drugs – aromatase inhibitors and Bisphosphonates – significantly improved survival rates in postmenopausal women with breast cancer,” he said adding with the introduction of generic form of “Gleevec”, the drug used for blood cancer, many lives were saved.

He said that use of generic drugs in other chronic medical conditions, like diabetes, hypertension and other cardiovascular ailments would result in long term adherence to essential therapies.

The DAK President said it was because of generic drugs that saved millions of lives with AIDS.

While generic drug use has increased over time elsewhere, doctors in J&K continue to dole out expensive branded drugs when equally effective and cheaper versions are available, Dr Nisar alleged.

He said that a perception was being generated that generic drugs “being cheaper, will be less effective”.

“We need to raise awareness among people that would change their perception towards generic drugs. More education for both doctors and patients would increase the prescriptions and use of generic drugs,” he suggested.

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