1. What are generic drugs?
Generic drugs are medications that have the same active ingredients as the original brand-name drug but are typically cheaper. They are approved by regulatory agencies for safety and efficacy.
2. Why has the NMC recommended prescribing generic drugs?
The primary aim is to bring down healthcare costs. Generic medicines are often 30-80% cheaper than branded drugs.
3. Are all medicines in India affordable?
Yes, medicines in India are among the most affordable globally. However, treatments can still be expensive for individuals without insurance, causing significant out-of-pocket costs.
4. What concerns have been raised about generic drugs?
Medical associations are concerned about the variation in the quality of plain generics. They emphasize the need for prioritizing quality over price.
5. What's the difference between plain generics and branded generics?
While both have the same active ingredients, branded generics often have established quality standards, including factors like good manufacturing practices, supply chain SOPs, and quality control. Plain generics might not always meet these stringent requirements.
6. Are there risks with generic medications?
Yes, there can be risks. A focus on just price can increase incidents of counterfeit medicines. Recent unfortunate events in Gambia and Uzbekistan have raised alarms about the quality of certain generics.
7. What should be the way forward?
While affordability is essential, the primary emphasis should be on the quality of medicines. It's crucial to ensure that both branded and generic medications are safe, effective, and in line with Standard Treatment Guidelines (STG). Regulatory measures need to be more stringent to ensure patient safety and trust.
8. What role do doctors and pharmacists play in this?
Doctors want the freedom to prescribe what they believe is best for their patients. They are concerned that pharmacies might swap out brands due to profit margins, potentially compromising quality.
9. What should patients consider?
Patients should prioritize trust, efficacy, and safety. While cost-saving is crucial, health outcomes and safety should not be compromised.
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