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Posted at: Dec 7, 2018, 12:15 AM; last updated: Dec 7, 2018, 12:15 AM (IST)

The prescription audit

HP takes docs to task for advising costlier pills
The prescription audit

THE Himachal Pradesh residents can heave a sigh of relief as the state appears sincere about acting upon its declared intent of providing affordable healthcare to the patients. It is taking to task doctors not adhering to its rule of prescribing the vastly cheaper generic drugs. Earlier this year, it had asked doctors to prescribe the cheaper generic drugs instead of the costlier branded versions of the same salts so as not to fleece patients. They were required to give the reason in writing if they were to prescribe a branded drug. HP’s hand was forced after its latest prescription audit report revealed that some 400 doctors had been continuing to indulge in professional misconduct, purportedly due to links with pharmaceutical companies. The action against them, if followed to its logical conclusion, would deter the others from going down the same path.

To strengthen its bid to break the unholy nexus between big pharma firms and doctors, the HP Government would do well to work on its resolve of bringing in legislation to compel doctors to prescribe generic medicine. Also needed are more generic medicines stores in the state for the patients, many of whom can ill afford the rates at which medicines are expected to be bought at present. Justification is indeed called for when, for example, a poor man is forced to forego some basic facilities for his family just because the doctor hid from him the fact that there was an eight times cheaper alternative to the pill prescribed available in the market. 

At the same time, it is vital to understand the other causes for the unpopularity of generic drugs. It is felt that a majority of the generic drugs escape quality tests. The pharmaceutical industry could be cured of this ailment if a legal framework ensures quality in generic drug testing. The other drawback: compared to branded medicines, generic ones have low bioavailability which makes them less effective. It is of utmost importance that the potion while being inexpensive is also safe and potent enough to do its magic.

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