NMC advisory: Prescribe Generic Drugs

Over 30 to 80 % of health care expenses are for drugs and it’s a burden to the population of low-income countries like India. In view of this, The National Medical Commission (NMC) has issued a guidance to avoid branded generic drugs and prescribe drugs with generic, non-proprietary, and pharmacological names only. Prescribing generic medicines may overtly bring down health care costs and improve access to quality care.”

Under the generic medicine and prescription guidelines of the Regulation, it defines generic drug as a drug product that is comparable to brand/reference listed product in dosage in dosage form, strength, route of administration, quality and performance characteristics, and intended use, while a branded generic drug is defined as one which has come off patent and is manufactured by drug companies and sold under different companies’ brand names.

“These drugs may be less costly than the branded patent version but costlier than the bulk manufactured generic version of the drug. There is less regulatory control over the prices of these “branded” generic drugs,” it added.

However, in the case of drugs with a narrow therapeutic index, biosimilars, and similar other exceptional cases, the practice of prescribing generic names only, can be relaxed.

“Avoid prescribing “branded” generic drugs,” it said as one of the guidance to the RMPs.

It also advises the RMPs to prescribe drugs rationally and optimally and fixed dose combinations are to be used judiciously. Both overprescribing and under prescribing are to be avoided keeping in mind possible drug interactions. Only approved and rational fixed-dose combinations are to be prescribed.

The RMPs should advise hospitals and local pharmacies to stock generic drugs and prescribe only those generic medicines that are available in the Pharmacy outlets and accessible to the patient.

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They should encourage patients to purchase drugs from ‘Jan Aushadhi Kendras’ and other generic pharmacy outlets and educate medical students, patients, and the public regarding the equivalence of generic medicine with their branded counterparts. MBBS and PG students will be trained in the value of prescribing generic medicine.

The RMPs should actively participate in programs related to promotion and access to generic medicines. Written Prescriptions should be legible and preferably in full CAPITALS to avoid misinterpretation. As far as possible prescriptions should be typed and printed to avoid errors, added the notification giving out template for writing prescriptions rationally.

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