Your neighbourhood drug store may soon have a separate section for generic drugs.
The All-Kerala Chemists and Druggists Association (AKCDA), the largest network of medicine distributors in the State, has come up with this proposal to tackle the rising demand for non-branded medicines at affordable rates.
A.N. Mohanan, president, AKCDA, claims that the Union government has been pushing the sale of generic medicines through Jan Aushadhi stores. The State government has been promoting the Kerala Generics brand of medicines through Karunya community pharma outlets as well. There are over 400 Jan Aushadhi stores in the State and the Centre plans to set up more such shops.
“Opening up of Jan Aushadhi stores have hit our business. Many medical shops have shut down. The rising demand for quality-assured generic drugs made us think of setting up separate sections for them,” he pointed out.
“More than 90% of the ₹10,000-crore worth medicines, a majority of them branded generic drugs, being sold in the State annually are not manufactured here,” Mr. Mohanan said.
He said that before the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), both multinational pharma companies and their Indian counterparts used to outsource medicine manufacturing to small units set up in northeastern States, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir to get exemption from excise duty, income tax, and value added tax.
After the enforcement of the GST, pharma majors have set up their own plants and the output of manufacturers in those States had come down considerably, he said.
“We propose to make use of their facilities and the effort will be to sell non-branded essential generic medicines. The Drugs Control Department is expected to issue guidelines soon to ensure the quality of the manufacturers. Pharmacists’ associations have offered us help,” Mr. Mohanan said.
As many as 2,000 of the 13,000 AKCDA members were expected to have generic sections at their stores within six months, he added.
The medical community, however, is not very enthusiastic. Though the Medical Council of India had directed doctors some time ago to prescribe only generic medicines, they are apprehensive of the quality aspect. N. Sulphi, State secretary, Indian Medical Association, told The Hindu that almost 98% of generic drugs in the country was of low quality.
“If they can ensure the quality of the drugs, we can think about prescribing them,” he added.