New Delhi: Unhappy with profits being made by
drug manufacturers at the cost of poor patients, a
Parliamentary Standing Committee has demanded a blanket cap on
profit margins of all medicines across the board.
The committee also recommended that the governments, both
at the Centre and the states, procure generic drugs in bulk
from manufacturers and dispense them directly to patients
through health centres.
The capping of profit margins would do away with the need
of monitoring prescriptions, identifying the manufacturers
supplying low priced medicines and any need to prefer generic
over branded products.
The Standing Committee on Health, headed by Amar Singh,
asked the Department of Health and Family Welfare in
coordination with the Department of Pharmaceuticals to convene
a meeting of chief secretaries of state governments for
formulating an effective "essential drug supply" policy.
The committee expressed shock that despite there being
irrefutable evidence of a strong link between high prices of
medicines and poverty, the number of drugs under price control
regulation still remains at a "pathetic" 74.
Prescription of irrational and useless drugs by many of
the doctors with ulterior motives is rampant. The committee
is therefore, convinced that there is no other alternative but
to include more essential and life-saving drugs under price
regulation, it said.
On a suggestion before the committee of making doctors
write all prescriptions in generic names only, the committee
felt it has its flip side.
"In generic names only prescription policy, even if a
doctor prescribes a medicine in the generic name, the chemist
will be free to dispense any equivalent. Thus the power will
shift from the doctor to the chemist".