‘Prescribe drugs by generic rather than brand name’

Published: March 30, 2018


PESHAWAR: After having been discussed for over a year, the health ministry has now finally decided medicines should be prescribed on generic names with details of the prescribing physician.

However, the recommendations agree that doctors should be allowed to prescribe medicines according to brand name in special cases.

Prescription on generic, rather brand names, would give patients the choice to go for less costly drugs besides lead to a healthy competition between brands leading to reduction in prices.

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The ministry also plans for hospital-based pharmacies to be run on no-profit-no-loss starting from district headquarter hospitals with pharmacists providing generic name of quality drugs.

A contact group, established by the ministry, will work on the initiative and come up with way forward within two months, officials informed adding the group should consult doctors associations, medical teaching institutions, federal government, other provinces, health care commission and other experts deemed necessary.

Officials privy to the development stated it [shifting towards prescribing medicines on generic names] had been planned this last year but the plan could not be implemented however a recent study compelled them to implement the plan in larger public interest.

They stated that it was now imperative to bring around clear standard operating procedures for prescription writing and record keeping, both in public and private sector based on international best practices.

“Legibility, typing out, prescriber’s name and patient’s details are provided not only to protect patients from wrong medication but to also against over-prescription both of required and not-so-required drugs,” the guidelines for prescribing medicines read.

Officials informed that a study appearing in Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences titled ‘Prescription patterns of general practitioners in Peshawar’ shows that out of 1097 prescriptions in six major hospitals and pharmacies, 78% prescriptions did not have diagnosis or indication mentioned.

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Dosage, duration of use, signature of physician and directions for taking drugs were not written in 63.8%, 55.4%, 18.5% and 10.9% of prescriptions respectively, it read adding almost 62% of the prescribed medicines were painkillers.

According to health officials, no prescription contained essential components of a prescription, poor legibility in 58.5% prescriptions besides unavailability of physician’s name and registration number in 89% and 98.2% prescriptions respectively.

The guidelines stated that other downsides included misuse of drugs and lack of proper prescription code lead to drugs resistance, especially, in case of antibiotics.

“In some cases, doctors prescribe medicines in hurry without taking proper history which leads to drugs reaction at times,” the guidelines, a copy available with The Express Tribune read adding opening government pharmacies will discourage the trend.

“Our watch-dog should be able enough to monitor things as setting a system in place without proper monitoring is just a photo-op,” the guidelines read adding ‘it may be considered that there is one standard design across K-P,” it read.

It stated that prescription forms will be introduced instead of plan writing pads adding forms will have all the necessary columns about quantity, dose and duration, and could even include Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) registration number.

Drug regulation laws and authorities may address issues until the prescription was converted on generic name beside the pharmacy stores (staff) may need regulations and training on formulary regarding generic names.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2018.

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