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Doctors urged to prescribe generic medicines

New Delhi: Arguing that the generic medicines are like the branded medicines, Dr P D Vaghela, Secretary, Department of Pharmaceuticals, Govt of India, has urged doctors to prescribe generic medicines at least to the poor patients.

“My request to the doctors is to prescribe generic medicines at least to the poor patients. The generic medicines are like the branded medicines,” said Dr P D Vaghela on Thursday while speaking at the inaugural edition of ‘CME Summit and Excellence Awards’ organised by Indian Health & Wellness Council (IHW).

Dr Vaghela also highlighted the stringent sampling and testing rules in India, saying the low failures indicates at the good quality of generic medicines.

He said fixing the price ceiling for medicines has been immensely beneficial.

“The Drug Prices Control Order (DPCO) in 2017 has made medicines more affordable and has brought a saving of more than Rs 12,400 crore. Jan Aushadhi stores have generated a saving of Rs 315 crore and Rs 2,000 crore for consumers in the last financial year,” said Dr Vaghela.

Emphasizing the role of medical staff other than doctors in providing quality healthcare, Dr Vaghela said they should also come under the ambit of continuing medical education (CME).

“Those doctors who are ignoring CME are doing at their own peril. Though we cannot rule out information bias of pharmaceutical giants in CME, I believe including nurses and other support staff will make it more effective. We may also partner with IHW to develop CME programmes,” said Dr Vaghela.

Speaking at the event, Kamal Narayan, CEO, Indian Health & Wellness Council (IHW), said, “The effectiveness of medicines depends not only on its quality but also on the doctors who are administering it. I believe supply of medicines is going to be important, as the supply of basic necessities of healthy life – good air, water and food, are insufficient. Producing good medicines, however, does not guarantee good health, we need to make sure that the doctors have the knowledge to implement the upgradations.”

Dr Arun Kumar Gupta, President, Delhi Medical Council, highlighted the importance of including knowledge about rules and regulations that is required in day-to-day medical practice into CMEs.

“A doctor needs to deal with 28 laws to run a small clinic and as many as 100 laws to run a hospital. However, nowhere is a doctor taught about this. Doctors know the science of medicines but we need to teach them the art of it – teach empathy for patients. Besides, financial management and good self-care should also be a part of the CME curriculum for the doctors,” said Dr Gupta.

“Learning is a lifelong process for doctors. In science, the actual truth of today is always a relative truth of tomorrow. As India gears up for universal healthcare access, expected to be the largest in the world, it is important to bring our attention and focus towards the public and the private stakeholders to the simple and low cost medical tools that can provide quality patient care,” said Savitha Kuttan, Founder & CEO, Omnicuris.

CME courses in India are funded by a wide range of organisations such as the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, and the Medical Council of India (MCI), as well as international organisations such as UNICEF. The MCI established a code of ethics stating that members should complete 30 hours of CME every five years in order to re-register as doctors. But due to low literacy levels and poor awareness of good medical practice at the community level, there is little pressure from patients to motivate doctors to participate in CME programmes.

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