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DCGI asks retailers to have separate racks to sell generic drugs, trade groups are not amused

Viswanath Pilla
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Viswanath Pilla

Moneycontrol News

In a move to push the use of cost-effective generic medicines - India's drug regulator has written to all state regulators asking them to ensure every pharmacy retail store maintains a separate rack specifically for generic drugs.

“It has been decided that every retail outlet should provide a separate shelf/rack reserved exclusively for stocking generic medicines in the licensed premises separated from other medicines, which shall be visible to the consumers,” said S Eswara Reddy, Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), in a letter to all state regulators on June 13.

DCGI directed state regulators to ensure that generic medicines are visible to consumers.

Moneycontrol has seen a copy of the letter.

The Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB), India's highest drug advisory body, in February recommended pharmacies to maintain a separate rack reserved solely for the storage of generic medicines, which should be visible to consumers.

The directive of DCGI is part of the Union government's efforts to promote cost-effective drugs to patients.

The government, through it’s 3,000 Jan Aushadhi stores, provides cheaper drugs to patients.

Not binding

The All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD), the trade body representing pharmacy retailers and wholesalers, said that the advisory of the DCGI may not be binding, as there is no law on providing separate storage space for generic drugs.

"The only condition imposed is that the storage condition has to be to the satisfaction of the licensing authority. They  have requirements such as having a refrigerator to maintain certain temperature and air conditioner in the premises," AN Mohan, President of AIOCD told Moneycontrol from Trichur.

"How do you define what is a generic drug. In India most of the drugs sold are generics," Mohan said.

He added that by merely displaying generic drugs doesn't help patients - because as per the law a chemist can't substitute a drug prescribed by the physician with a generic drug.

"Also the price difference between a generic drug and branded generic isn't that significant -as prices of both the drugs come under price control, unless if you are buying from Jan Aushadi where government procures medicines in bulk," Mohan stressed.

Unlike the US and a few other developed countries, where the term 'branded drugs' refers to patented drugs and the off-patent ones are called generics, branded drugs are nothing but generic drugs promoted as brands.