Mumbai : Although the government resolution (GR), which stated that doctors should only prescribe generic medicines to patients, has been put on hold, the medical fraternity has raised concerns over the diktat while raising questions over the quality of non branded drugs. After the National Medical Commission (NMC) came under heavy fire from several associations of medicos, the August 2 GR has been kept in abeyance.

However, the move hasn’t pacified the doctors at large as several of their groups are holding meetings with Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and raising questions over quality of generic medicines. In a letter sent to the Centre, the Indian Medical Association said that less than 1% of generic drugs produced in India are tested for quality. Moreover, a government panel has underlined the problems in the drug regulatory system and attributed them to weak infrastructure, inadequate testing and drug inspection staff shortages.

“Before making such regulations, the NMC should take the opinion of doctors, who are crucial stakeholders in the country’s healthcare policies. The commission should adopt a gradual approach to policy changes over time,” said a senior doctor.

Dr Parthiv Sanghvi, a city-based consultant surgeon, dubbed the NMC as a “bureaucratically managed doctors (association)”. Under the garb of affordable healthcare for all and to decrease medical expenses for the general public, the NMC came out with a ‘fatwa’ for doctors to prescribe generic medicines. “Has the government forgotten that the World Health Organisation has blacklisted some of the pharmaceutical companies for manufacturing spurious medicines which claimed the lives of many children. The Indian pharmacy was dragged into an international dispute due to such deaths arising from wrong combination generic cough syrups, which were exported by an unregulated pharma company in north India to Gambia. The government easily puts the onus on doctors but what about the unregulated pharma companies,” he said.

A senior doctor said there are several reasons due to which the GR received a backlash from the medical fraternity as most of the doctor conferences are sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. If the new GR is implemented, it will have a big impact on these firms, the medico added. Averring that the rule has the potential to break the nexus between doctors and pharma companies, he said, “Generic names in prescriptions will mean that doctors cannot push the products of any particular company. If that happens, would companies be as willing to sponsor doctors? Maybe not.”