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‘One should always buy generic medicines from reliable brands or outlets’

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With an idea to serve the populace with inexpensive but effective medicine, StayHappi Pharmacy wants to reach as many people as it can serve fast, informs Dr Sujit Paul, Managing Director, StayHappi Pharmacy to Akanki Sharma in an exclusive interaction on the theme ‘Health For All’

How are generic medicines different from branded medicines? How many people are aware of generic medicines, and do they trust it?

Generic medicines are the low-cost variants of branded drugs. They contain the same active ingredients in the same dosage as branded drugs. They are effective and easy on the pocket. The branded drugs industry entails a huge expense in Research and Development, marketing and branding. As these costs are minimised for generic drugs, they are considerably more affordable.
People are slowly becoming aware of these drugs, thanks to prescribing methodology practised by the government. However, the numbers are still very low. Further, there is a problem of acquiring these medicines from reliable sources since many spurious or less effective medicines are also seen in the market. One should always buy generic medicines from reliable brands or outlets.

What was the idea behind planning one store every 48 hours? Have you achieved this goal? As of now, how many people have benefitted through your pharmacy stores? Which states are you active in?

The idea is to serve the populace with inexpensive but effective medicine. We want to reach as many people as we can serve fast. Currently, we are operational in 167 locations, and plan to have 1000 stores within 2019-20; 302 total stores are already signed and will be operational soon.
Nearly 15 per cent of the Indian population is using the medicines manufactured by our partnering firms. We are active in all states across India. We believe that every human being should have easy access to the best quality healthcare. Thus, we are actively looking for new partners to fuel our reach.

In what ways will StayHappi pharmacy help government implement the Uniform Code of Pharmaceuticals Marketing Practices (UCPMP)?

The Prime Minister has a enduring vision of inclusive healthcare at affordable rates for everyone. The ‘Make in India’ drive has spurred indigenous pharmaceutical companies to create affordable world-class medicines. These have fuelled stocks at our StayHappi stores with high-quality medicines at low rates.
Our pharmacies will strive to fulfill the implementation of UCPMP. Our efforts will be free of any legislative bindings and we will ensure a steady supply of medicines at all times.

With Jan Aushadhi Kendras also selling in generic medicines, how do you differentiate yourself from them?

Jan Aushadhi stores are a great initiative taken by the Government of India. However, with India being a large country, there is more to be done from common people’s perspective. The basis of our mission is same — affordable quality healthcare. We have tied up with multiple potential franchises and are opening one store every 48-72 hours in the country.
Our operational methodology is simple and seamless. We have a central warehouse and a strong supply chain which ensures all the stores are stocked.

The Medical Council of India (MCI) had directed doctors to compulsorily write molecule or salt name in prescriptions. Has this directive been implemented? If yes, how is it impacting beneficiaries and pharmacists? If not, when can this implementation be expected?

The MCI had put in place a law in April 2017 that doctors should mention molecule or salt names in the presciption. This is quite low in implementation in 10 per cent cases in private hospitals, but we see many government healthcare institutions following it.
The trend is slowly catching up and we are confident that it will grow once doctors can be made aware of the availability of quality generic medicines.
The lacunae is the dearth of good-quality generic medicines in pharmacies. Stayhappi should be able to fill that gap.

Has generic medicines gained popularity in India? Do you sell medicines with molecular name or brand name? Why?

The generic medicine market is growing rapidly as the MCI has played an active role in mandating prescriptions with generic salts and molecules. The awareness is growing and so is the trust. The availability of high-quality medicines and alternate naturopathy and ayurveda products in our stores has made people aware that medical costs can be minimised.
We procure and sell high-quality generic medicines at an affordable cost. These have the molecular name and are manufactured by eminent pharmaceutical companies that fulfill all the criteria in quality standards prescribed by the government.
We aim to provide affordable medical help for all Indians adhering to high-quality expectations.

Name some pharmaceutical manufacturing companies you have partnered with and how do these function with you?

Our partners are certified with most of the relevant quality guidelines like US-FDA, HACCPNABL, ISO 9001-2018, WHO-GMP, NAFDAC, GLP, GMP, AYUSH, ISO 14001-2004, ANVISA, ISO 22000-2005, US-NF, Food Safety system 1999. They together produce nearly 15 per cent of the total medicines sold in India.
We procure medicines in bulk, and they are stored in our central warehouse. They are then pushed into a robust supply chain and into a country-wide distribution network. We look forward to provide quality healthcare at affordable rates and also create an infrastructure that will provide jobs and employment opportunities for thousands of skilled and semi-skilled professionals.

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