The government of India informed parliament that in order to provide quality generic medicines at affordable prices to all citizens, especially the poor and the deprived ones, Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) has been launched by the Department of Pharmaceuticals wherein about 9,182 dedicated outlets known as Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras (PMBJKs) have been opened till February ending.
A generic drug is legally certified to be of the same quality to replace the innovator product and can therefore be interchanged for the latter. In other words, it is a medication created to be the same as an existing approved brand name drug in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, and performance characteristics.
Generic medicines cost 80 to 90 percent less than the branded medicines, according to a doctor’s body. It would make drugs accessible to poor patients who are otherwise finding it hard to buy expensive branded medicines, it underlined and rightly so.
The progressive step to say the least was recommended by the erstwhile Planning Commission’s High-Level Expert Group on Universal Health Coverage very long ago. While the step will surely reform the way essential medicines are distributed to patients, those in favour of the status quo on price and distribution have succeeded so far.
The government said Department of Pharmaceuticals has taken various steps for increasing production of drugs in the country. In order to encourage the domestic manufacturing of pharmaceutical drugs, including generic medicines, two Production Linked Incentive (PLI) schemes have been launched, viz., PLI Scheme for promotion of domestic manufacturing of critical Key Starting Materials (KSMs)/ Drug Intermediates (DIs)/ Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) within an outlay of Rs. 6,940 crores and PLI Scheme for Pharmaceuticals with an outlay of Rs. 15,000 cr.
It is important to note that competition often leads to substantial lowering of prices for both the original brand-name product and its generic equivalents.
The code of ethics issued by the Medical Council of India in 2002 calls for doctors to prescribe drugs by their generic names only.
The relative merits of branded and generic drugs have been discussed, with varying opinions. The solution to the problem of branded versus generic drugs only lies in strengthening the existing quality control structure. The government needs to work on all fronts including strengthening the quality control makeup.
The administration must work to make it a reality and ensure that problems of the past do not come in achieving the endeavor for the larger public interest.