‘Doctors must prescribe generic names or explain why not’

A brand name is given by the company manufacturing the salt, while the generic name is the name of the salt itself.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi | Published: May 13, 2017 2:39:41 am
Representational Image.

The doctors should be writing generic names with brand names of medicines in prescriptions as per the directions of Medical Council of India (MCI), or they should explain the reason for not doing so, said Ananth Kumar, Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers, on Friday. The Department of Pharmaceuticals comes under the chemicals and fertilisers ministry.

“Due to our sustained efforts, the MCI has issued a circular to doctors across the country where they made it mandatory to prominently mention generic names of drugs along with brand names. As per the MCI circular, all the registered medical practitioners under the IMCA Act are directed to comply … Therefore, for example, if you (doctor) do not prescribe generic medicines, you should be explaining why you are not prescribing,” Kumar said.

A brand name is given by the company manufacturing the salt, while the generic name is the name of the salt itself. On April 21, the MCI had issued a circular clearly stating that the doctors “shall” be writing the generic names in the prescription in “legible” handwriting. Many doctors had then said that as the word used is “shall” in the circular, it is still optional for them to write the generic name in the prescription.

“If I am going to court, not wearing a gown but by wearing a shirt, the lawyer has to explain. So, when it has been made amply clear, that they are directed to comply (to write the generic names), there should be no doubt over “should” and “shall”. There is nothing to be worried. It is technicality. This technicality would be corrected in the coming days …We will see that we persuade our brother doctors follow the MCI circular and propagate this to other doctors,” Kumar said.

On April 18, 2017, the health ministry sent the directions to all central hospitals making prescription of generics compulsory. The health ministry has also sent the state governments an advisory on the same lines. Moreover, on March 30, 2017, the health ministry directed every company that every medicine must have a generic name in big and bold letters, along with the brand name of the drug. The minister said: “All generic medicines should have the generic names in big and bold fonts. Not under the brand name. Companies generally write the brand names in big fonts. If your brand name is big, the generic name should be bigger than that.”

The minister added: “The question is of quality too. We have thought a lot about it. We will fix a standard so that poor people get best quality medicines.

Therefore, we have decided that only those pharma firms, which are WHO-GMP (World Health Organisation – Good Manufacturing Practices) certified, would be supplying to our Jan Aushadhi programme. We are not going to procure Jan Aushadhi medicines from any other pharma company. This will create a silent revolution.”

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