PESHAWAR: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government is likely to impose a ban on general practitioners from prescribing medicines with their brand names.
In this regard, the provincial health ministry would move a summary making it mandatory for physicians to prescribe the generic name of a medicine only. “Doctors will be prescribing medicines with generic names only,” says a senior health official dealing with the issue.
He said every medicine has an approved generic name, and added, “once several companies start manufacturing the same medicine, each company gives its product a trade name”.
The move came after the health ministry as well as the Chief Minister’s Complaint Cell received several complaints against pharmaceutical firms allegedly offering attractive packages to general practitioners in exchange for prescribing a particular brand of medicine.
Officials in the health ministry said the complainants had levelled serious allegations. “The majority stated that pharmaceutical companies have offered general practitioners hefty benefits ranging from monetary rewards to offers of paying their utility bills, buying them luxury cars and daily commodities, and even paying tuition fees of their children.”
Sources said several companies had signed contracts whereby doctors were bound to prescribe specific medicines to patients. “These companies have taken into account the profit margin of distributers, wholesale dealers as well as doctors in their calculations and ultimately the burden falls on the shoulders of innocent people.”
Another official, who also refused to share his identity, said the practice of prescribing branded drugs was done only in Pakistan and added even in the Gulf doctors prescribed medicines only with their generic names.
A senior medical representative, who has been dealing with doctors on the issue for over a decade, said most of the demands put forward by doctors were accommodated in any deal signed between pharmaceutical firms and the former.
“Our company offers mostly foreign trips [with family], stay at luxury hotels in hilly areas [during the summer], bungalows in upscale residential areas and latest vehicles,” he told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity in view of the nature of the issue.
“The fatter the incentive, the more is your product prescribed to patients.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2017.
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