Expert Panel To Soon Weigh Plan To Use Generics For Prescription Drugs

New Delhi: An expert committee is likely to meet soon to deliberate on a contentious proposal to assess the feasibility of allowing generic substitutions for prescription drugs, said people familiar with the matter.

The proposal has become a bone of contention between the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA), which represents the country’s big drug makers, and the All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN), a network of several health organisations. The IPA is opposing the proposal to allow government-run Jan Aushadhi Kendras to dispense substitutes of
prescription medications, claiming that it would open floodgates of similar demands by trade channels, such as general pharmacy stores, “which will not be in the interest of patients”.

The IPA represents drugmakers such as Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Torrent Pharmaceuticals, Piramal Pharma, Aurobindo Pharma, Emcure Pharmaceuticals, Intas Pharmaceuticals, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, Lupin, Cipla and Cadila Pharmaceuticals. The IPA has also said the absence of proper regulatory oversight could result in spurious drugs being dispensed to patients.

AIDAN, on the other hand, said the permission to Jan Aushadhi Kendras to substitute brands with generic name medicines would be “in the interest of patients”.

“A committee will take up this matter to deliberate the concerns of all stakeholders,” said one of the persons, who did not wish to be identified.

AIDAN wrote to the health minister this week urging the government “to work for the consumer and leave no stone unturned towards making life saving medicines (available) at affordable price”. The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has been mulling a proposal to make changes to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, and its regulations to allow the substitution of drugs specified under schedules H, H1, and X with a view to promoting quality generic medicines at affordable prices.

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