New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has indicated that his government may bring in a legal framework under which doctors will have to prescribe low-cost generic medicines to patients.
A generic drug is a medication that is equivalent to a brand-name product in dosage, strength, route of administration, quality, safety, performance, and intended use.
Generic drugs are usually much less expensive than brand name drugs once they reach the market. However, in most cases, generic drugs become available in market only after the patent protections afforded to a drug's original developer expire.
"Doctors write prescriptions in such a way that poor people do not understand the handwriting, and he has to buy that medicine from private stores at high prices," Modi said while inaugurating a multi-speciality, charitable hospital in Surat.
"We will bring in a legal framework by which if a doctor writes a prescription, he has to write in it that it will be enough for patients to buy generic medicine and he need not buy any other medicine," he said.
"In our country doctors are less, hospitals are less and medicines are expensive. If one person falls ill in a middle class family, then the financial health of the family gets wrecked. He cannot buy a house, cannot conduct the marriage of daughter," he pointed out.
"It is the government's responsibility that everybody should get health services at minimal price," the PM said.
The Prime Minister said his government brought in a health policy after 15 years and capped the prices of medicines and stents, which has angered some pharmaceutical companies.
"We have recently declared a health policy. The health policy has been brought in after 15 years," he said.
"The prices of 700 medicines were capped so that poor people get medicines at reasonable rates when they face grave diseases," Modi said.
"We have also capped the prices of stents used in heart ailments," he said.
"We have done this work, and you can imagine how angry the manufacturers of medicines will be.
Despite the wrath of a very powerful lobby, the government is taking one step after another so that poor people and middle class get quality health services," the Prime Minister said.
He said the government has implemented the 'Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Pariyojna', where people get generic medicines from stores at reasonable rates.
Stressing on preventive health care, he said if people adopt it, they will not have to visit hospitals.
"Preventive health care is very important. My Swachhta Abhiyan (cleanliness campaign) is aimed at preventive healthcare as it has been proved that many diseases are contracted if we live in an unclean environment," he said.
The Prime Minister also highlighted the importance of practicing yoga.
"Yoga is also very important for wellness and I am running a campaign to make it popular across the world," he said.
He exhorted the well-off people to come forward and provide health care to the poor and middle class people.
"We require a jan andolan, jan shakti to provide effective healthcare to every person in the country," he said.
On Monday, Modi inaugurated the Rs 400 crore Kiran Multi Super Speciality Hospital and Research Centre, built by Samast Patidar Arogya Trust in Katargam area in Surat.
He had also laid the foundation stone of the hospital when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
(With PTI inputs)