New Delhi: All doctors must prescribe generic drugs, failing which they will be penalised and even their license to practice may also be suspended for a period, according to the new regulations issued by the National Medical Commission.
The National Medical Commission (NMC) in its ‘Regulations relating to Professional Conduct of Registered Medical Practitioners” also asked doctors to avoid prescribing branded generic drugs.
Even though doctors are currently required to prescribe generic drugs only, there are no penal provisions mentioned in the regulations issued in 2002 by the Indian Medical Council.
The NMC regulations notified on August 2, stated that India’s out-of-pocket spending on medications accounts for a major proportion of public spending on healthcare.
“Generic medicines are 30 to 80 per cent cheaper than branded drugs. Hence, prescribing generic medicines may overtly bring down healthcare costs and improve access to quality care,” it said.
Under the generic medicine and prescription guidelines of the regulations, the NMC defined generic medicines as a “drug product that is comparable to brand/reference listed product in dosage form, strength, route of administration, quality and performance characteristics, and intended use”.
On the other hand, a branded generic drug is 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 branded generic drugs.
“Every RMP (registered medical practitioner) should prescribe drugs using generic names written legibly and prescribe drugs rationally, avoiding unnecessary medications and irrational fixed-dose combination tablets,” the regulation stated.
In case of violations, a doctor may be given a warning to be more careful about the regulations or instructed to attend a workshop or academic programme on ethics, personal and social relations and/or professional training.
On repeated violations, the doctor’s license to practice may be suspended for a particular period, the regulations said.
The NMC said prescriptions should be legible and preferably written in all caps to avoid misinterpretation. As far as possible, prescriptions should be typed and printed to avoid errors, it said.
A template has also been provided by the NMC that may be used for writing prescriptions rationally.