With the exit of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, a proposal to make generic drugs available in hospital pharmacies — aimed at curtailing the practice of branded drugs being prescribed to patients — now faces an uncertain future.
The project was one of the first initiatives of the AAP government, and was aimed at improving the availability of drugs at hospitals and promoting generic medicines.
In the first week of January, immediately after taking over, the AAP government passed the order, instructing doctors in all hospitals to prescribe generic drugs. A month later, doctors say pharmacies in government hospitals continue to stock branded drugs.
“We are prescribing generic drugs but, in effect, we are still selling branded drugs at our hospital as there is no supply of generic drugs. Earlier, in 90 per cent cases, we were prescribing branded drugs available in our pharmacies. Then, orders were issued to prescribe generic drugs. But till date, there is no supply of generic drugs in government pharmacies,” a senior doctor at Lok Nayak hospital said.
Sources said generic drug stores under the Centre’s Jan Aushadhi scheme in two government hospitals — Guru Teg Bahadur and Deen Dayal Upadhyay — were not “integrated” with hospital set-ups and, hence, there was a shortage of drugs at the stores.
“The idea was to start supplying generic drugs directly at hospital pharmacies by purchasing drugs from the Directorate of Health Services, instead of hospitals buying their own drugs. This would have improved availability of drugs,” an official said.
Patients said they were forced to go to private pharmacies. A patient at Guru Teg Bahadur hospital said, “I have been prescribed a combination of high-end antibiotics, which are in short supply at the hospital. So, I went to private pharmacies in the area, which tried to sell me different brands at higher prices.”
The order issued by the health secretary in January stated, “The drug policy of the government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) stipulates prescription of medicines by generic names. It has been observed that several doctors in the hospitals and dispensaries of GNCTD are prescribing medicines as per brand names, which is in contravention of the existing policy.”