DOCS DEFY GENERIC RX RULESJuly 5, 2019
Even as Travancore-Cochin Medical Council (TCMC), the Kerala state medical council, has once again issued a circular asking the medical professionals in the state to prescribe medicines in generic names, it may not become a reality in the near future with the latter raising questions over the quality of generic medicines.
The state medical council once again issued a circular after finding that several medical professionals in the state are yet to comply with the guidelines of the Medical Council of India. In the circular, the state medical council has also asked the medical professionals to write prescriptions legibly.
The state medical council, in a 15-point circular issued recently, said, “Every practitioner should, as far as possible, prescribe drugs with generic names and he/she shall ensure that there is a rational prescription and use of drugs”.
Both practitioners and private hospitals in the state feel that the move may backfire as many generic medicines available in the market lack quality. They observed that the present move will yield benefits only if the government ensures the quality of generic medicines available in the market.
Implement quality standards
Dr. Sugathan M E, President, Indian Medical Association (IMA) Kerala, said, “In principle, it is correct that doctors should prescribe generic medicines and IMA is not against it. But the quality of generic medicines is a major concern as different medicines are of different quality. If the government agencies strictly implement quality control rule, it’s a reasonable move. At present, quality of medicines are not strictly enforced and due to this, quality of medicines vary.”
Dr Sugathan observed that if doctors prescribe in generic names, pharmacists are likely to give brands of their choice to the patients. “If the quality of medicines is equal, there are no issues. The move will benefit the patient only if the quality control rule is strictly enforced,” he said, adding that the body will ask the government to strictly enforce quality control.
The body of private hospitals in the state also subscribes to the view of the IMA state chapter. Raising its apprehensions, the association stated that the quality of medicines is a major concern. “If we prescribe in generic name, the pharmacist is likely to give some medicine and it is not possible for the doctors to monitor whether the patient was given a poor quality medicine. The government does not have any control over the generic medicines, which are being brought to the state without any supervision. The move is not likely to provide the desired result as many of the generic medicines do not have any standard. The government should take an initiative for ensuring the quality of the generic medicines available in the market,” said Dr E K Ramachandran, Treasurer, Kerala Private Hospitals Association (KPHA).
Dr Ramachandran added that if the quality of medicines is not ensured, medicines won’t give the desired result. “If such a medicine fails to give the desired result, it can lead to complications and the concerned doctor will be responsible for the same. The medical shops normally give poor quality medicines that get them maximum profit. If the government can ensure quality of the medicines, it will benefit the patients as it will bring down the treatment cost,” he asserted. Dr Ramachandran also advocated for the constitution of a committee to study and solve the issue.
Meanwhile, both the medical practitioners and private hospitals have agreed to the suggestion of the medical council that the prescriptions should be legible. “We also agree that the prescriptions should be legible and we have given suggestions to our members several times in this regard. This time also we are planning to ask our members to make prescriptions legible. The workload of the doctors is the main issue that affects the legibility of prescriptions. The handwriting can be bad when there is a huge workload,” said Dr Sugathan.
Dr Jayakrishnan A V, Chairman, IMA Hospital Board of India, Kerala Chapter, also said that in several places, doctors have been meeting a huge number of patients daily. “Due to the very high number of patients, many doctors are unable to write prescriptions legibly. But the issue can be resolved when we switch over to electronic prescriptions in the future,” he said.
The state medical council in its circular has also asked all the doctors who practice in the state to register with Travancore-Cochin Medical Council (TCMC). Every practitioner is also asked to display the registration number accorded to him by the state medical council in his clinic and all his prescriptions, certificates, and to ensure that money receipts are given to his patients. Medical practitioners are also asked to display as suffix to their names only recognised medical degrees or such certificates or diplomas and memberships and honours which confer professional knowledge or recognizes any exemplary qualifications and achievements. They are also asked to write their name, registration number and MCI recognised qualifications in the respective fields while issuing reports related to scanning, pathology, microbiology, biochemistry etc.