Stating that at least 24 lakh people in Indian-administered Kashmir do not have access to medicines due to lack of purchasing power, an apex group of doctors on Friday called for prescription of ‘generic drugs instead of branded medicines’.
The Doctors Association Kashmir on Friday said: “That would make drugs accessible to poor patients who are not able to buy expensive branded medicines.”
The group’s president Dr Nisar ul Hassan said: “Generic medicines are copycat versions of branded drugs and are equal to their branded counterparts in terms of strength, quality, efficacy and safety.”
Generic medicines cost 80 to 90 per cent less than the branded medicines as manufactures do not have to spend on the development and promotion of the drug.
Dr Hassan said “more than 24 lakh people in the region do not have access to medicines due to lack of purchasing power”.
“Majority of the cancer patients die for want of treatment because they cannot afford expensive branded drugs,” he said.
Generic drugs make treatment affordable for cancer patients and, as a result, save lives.
“Research has shown that generic drugs significantly reduce deaths among cancer patients,” he said.
Two studies published in the Lancet medical journal have found that the use of two inexpensive generic drugs – Aromatase inhibitors and Bisphosphonates – significantly improved survival rates in postmenopausal women with breast cancer.
“With the introduction of generic form of ‘Gleevec’, the drug used for blood cancer, many lives were saved,” he said.
“Use of generic drugs in other chronic medical conditions, like diabetes, hypertension and other cardiovascular ailments would result in long term adherence to essential therapies.”
“It was because of generic drugs that saved millions of lives with AIDS,” he added.
While generic drug use has increased over time, in Kashmir doctors continue to dole out expensive branded drugs when equally effective and cheaper versions are available.
“There is a perception generated that because generic drugs are cheaper, they will be less effective. We need to raise awareness among people that would change their perception towards generic drugs. More education for both doctors and patients would increase the prescriptions and use of generic drugs,” he said.