5 Of Top 10 Selling Generic Medicines Are For Diabetes, Hypertension On Janaushadhi Kendras

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Mumbai : Generic Medicines are gradually gaining popularity, particularly among patients dealing with expensive lifelong treatments for non-communicable diseases. Five out of the top 10 selling drugs at Janaushadhi kendras across India are related to diabetes and hypertension treatment — further highlighting the increasing occurrence of metabolic disorders and high blood pressure among Indians.

The Centre is keen to promote generic medicines, significantly reducing medication costs by 50-90 per cent. Every month, hundreds of thousands of diabetic and hypertension patients are benefiting from this initiative, as 10 units of generic medicines are available for as low as Rs 5.50, which translates to just Rs 0.55 per tablet.

For example, Telmisartan Tablets IP 40 mg, an antihypertensive medication, used to manage high blood pressure, is available for Rs 12 for 10 units at Janaushadhi kendras. In contrast, the same medicine, sold under different brand names, is priced at approximately Rs 30-100 for the same quantity.

“The PMBJP’s product range has significantly expanded from 1,300 to 1,800 medicines and 285 surgical devices since my tenure began. The highest demand among these medicines comes from therapeutic categories such as cardiovascular, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-infective, anti-allergic, and gastro-intestinal medicines,” said Ravi Dadhich, CEO of India’s Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Bureau (PMBI). He added, “It is estimated that the cost reduction in medicine saved is around Rs 5,360 crore for citizens in 2021-22.”

Generic medicines are unbranded versions of pharmaceutical drugs, with the same active ingredients and efficacy as brand-name drugs but at a lower cost.

The top 10 generic drugs at the Janaushadhi kendras across India have a combined monthly sale of approximately 76 lakh units across 9,600 centres in all states, with an average monthly sales per centre of Rs 1.50 lakh, including over-the-counter and other products. Five of these drugs are used for the treatment of diabetes and hypertension.

According to the latest data compiled by PMBI, Pantoprazole 40mg (Gastro-resistant) and Domperidone 30mg (Prolonged Release) Capsules IP — used to treat gastro-related conditions by reducing stomach acid and aiding digestion — recorded the highest sales, with over 10.86 lakh units sold monthly.

It is followed by Telmisartan Tablets IP 40 mg and Amlodipine Tablets IP 5mg — another antihypertensive drug, with monthly 9 lakh and 8 lakh unit sales per month. Metformin Hydrochloride 500 mg (Prolonged release) and Glimepiride 1mg Tablets IP are a combination medication for managing type 2 diabetes — ranks at the fourth most selling generic medicine. Then comes Pantoprazole Gastro Resistant Tablets IP 40 mg treats conditions involving excess stomach acid by reducing acid production.

Then the remaining top 10 medicines are Metformin Hydrochloride Prolonged-release 500mg and Glimepiride 2mg Tablets IP, Atorvastatin Tablets IP 10mg, a statin, lower cholesterol levels, Metformin Hydrochloride Prolonged Release Tablets IP 500, Montelukast Sodium 10mg and Levocetirizine 5mg Tablets IP form, Diclofenac 1.16%w/w, Linseed Oil 3%w/w, Methyl Salicylate 10%w/w, and Menthol 5%w/w Gel.

The prices of these 10 medicines vary from Rs 5.50 to Rs 24. “Unlike viral infections or seasonal diseases, non-communicable diseases require lifelong treatment, which often imposes a significant financial burden on patients. For instance, in the case of diabetes, we have observed that 3-4 members of the same family may require daily medications, which can cost up to Rs 15,000 per month. In such scenarios, generic medicines are a tremendous boon,” said Dr Ganesh Hande of the NGO Diabetes Health Foundation.

However, as previously reported by The Indian Express, the primary challenge lies in ensuring access to these medicines. Latika Rajput, a health rights activist from the tribal-dominated Nandurbar district, which has only five Janaushadhi kendras, said, “Many diabetic patients who cannot afford expensive medicines end up missing their doses. Improved access to Janaushadhi kendras can potentially save lives, preventing individuals from having to travel to remote government hospitals and losing their daily wages.”

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), diabetes cases continue to rise due to unhealthy lifestyles. To address this, doctors emphasized the importance of both using generic medicines for diabetes treatment and conducting further research to identify active ingredients in brand-name drugs.

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