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Allow co-prescription of brands and generic: IDMA to PM

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Says branded and generics markets can complement and supplement each other

The Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association has appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to disturb the branded generics market in India which has been very beneficial to the Indian public. The association’s representation reiterates that they are not against generic products but suggests that both branded and generic products could be co-prescribed so that the doctor can exercise his right to show his preference for a brand and the patient may decide whether to buy the brand or the generic version.

IDMA’s rationale is that both the branded and the generics markets can co-exist in India without much disruption and should complement and supplement each other to meet the growing demand and innovation which is the lifeline of the knowledge based pharma industry.

While IDMA shares the government’s concern to make medicines affordable for all, the representation says that there are several aspects with serious implications which need to be considered before taking any final decision in this regard.

Firstly, Indian branded generics constitute more than 80 per cent of the total market of Rs one lakh crore plus, which has evolved over the years through doctors’ preference and patients’ acceptance. The Indian pharma industry has been able to supply quality medicines at reasonable prices to the Indian public over the years, with drug prices in the country amongst the lowest in the world, even compared to countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka or Cameroon. The DPCO has also ensured that Essential Medicines are put under price control with annual increase as per WPI. Further, all other non-controlled products have also been put under price capping, points out IDMA.

Enumerating the undesirable consequences of the Prime Minister’s move, IDMA says that shifting the right to choose the product from the doctors to the chemists will have serious implications regarding margins and accountability as the latter are likely to push products for which they get higher margin with the result that the determining factor will be profitability and not quality. In some of the pharmacy shops, the salesmen who are not adequately qualified may be pushing such products and the patient may not be assured of good quality products. Thus eliminating brand names will jeopardise quality treatment and will be against patient/ consumer/ public interest, reasons IDMA.

The IDMA representation says the move to eliminate brand names will not be in national interest and has the potential to kill the Indian pharma industry as it will weaken it both in India and globally, and will result in loss of employment of both technical and non-technical personnel in the industry

IDMA points out that price reduction and control are not the only means to improve affordability and accessibility of drugs to the common man. The association suggests that the government should in fact subsidise the price of medicines as is done the world over. Free medicines can be provided to the poor people through government hospitals for which there is a need for increase in outlay of healthcare. While Indian drug prices are already the lowest in the world, but if there is an opportunity to further reduce price of essential drugs, IDMA indicated that the industry is willing to co-operate and sit with the government to explore possibilities in this regard.

The IDMA representation concludes with a plea that since the Indian pharma industry is already under severe pressure due to regulatory and pricing issues as well as getting ready for GST, any further disruption will cause irreparable damage to this industry.

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