Healthcare Budget Is One Subject Which Touches Our Lives Today Like Never Before. Medicines Share Almost 67% Of the Healthcare Budget in India Rest Being Taken Up by Consultation, Surgery, Diagnostic Tests Etc. When It Comes to Medicines, The Prices of Most of Essential Medicines Are Usually Found Out of Reach of Common Man. A Lot Is Heard About Generic Medicine and Their Prices Being Very Less Than the Branded Medicines. But What Are Generic Medicines? How to Find Them? Where to Find Them? And Are They of Equal Quality Compared to Commonly Available Branded Medicines?
A Common Man Seldom Gets Clarity on The Above Subject and Thus Usually Ends Up Buying 200% To 1000% Higher Priced Branded Medicines!!!!
Let’s First Understand What Is A Generic Medicine?
Whenever A Company Puts in A Lot of Efforts to Bring Out New Medicine, It Spends A Lot in Terms of Time and Money So It Is Rewarded with Exclusive Marketing Period to Recover the Cost of Research and Make Reasonable Profit. During This Period (Patent Period) No One Else Is Allowed to Manufacture or Market the Same Medicine. Once the Patent Period Expires, Any Company Is Authorized to Manufacture and Market the Same Medicine (Under Its Own Brand Name or Without Brand Name as Per Wish of Company) Which Is Called as The Generic Version.
E.g. Ciprofloxacin (Antibiotic) Was Research Product of Bayer Which Was Marketed by Company Under Brand Name Baycip In India. All Other Companies (Whether Top Most Company or Small or Medium Enterprise Company) Which Are Manufacturing and Marketing Ciprofloxacin (Whether Under Brand Name Like Ciplox, Cifran Etc Or Without Brand Name) Are Actually Marketing the Generic Version of The Product Only.
Surprised? But It Is True. Most of The Medicines You See on Chemist Shelves in India And Being Recommended by Doctors Are Actually the Generic Medicines Only (But Being Sold Under Fancy Brand Names).
What Comes to Our Mind in Wake of Above Information Is Then What Difference Does It Make Whether the Medicines Is Branded or Generic?
Actually, In Ideal Situation, Once Any Medicine Moves Out of Patent Period and Enters Generic Phase, Its Selling Price Should Come Down and Patients Should Be Able to Afford Them More Conveniently. Sadly, It Is Not Happening in India Due To
1 Poorly Conceived Government Policies
2 Strong Nexuses Between Pharmaceutical Companies, Medical Fraternity and Trader Associations Who Earn Huge Profits on Sale of Generic Versions.
Even When A Medicine Comes Out of Patent Period and Becomes Generic. Most Companies Keep on Marketing It with MRP Equivalent to Patent Medicine. With Huge Profit Margins Either Shared by Medical Fraternity (If Its Being Sold Under A Brand Name) Or with Trader Fraternity (If Its Sold Under Banded Generic Version)
In Either Case High MRP Excludes End Patients for Any Benefits. Although Many Retail Stores Do Offer Discount on The Generic Medicines but The Equation Remains Highly Balanced Against the Consumers Only.
So How Can A Patient Take Benefit of Generic Medicines? There Are Now A Lot of Data Available on Internet and A Lot of Sites Also Share Information Where the Details of Generic Product of Your Recommended Brand Are Available. One Can Always Search for Generic Version of The Recommended Product and Ask for The Same from The Pharmacy. Other Option Is One Can Always Ask His Physician Also to Recommend the Medicine as Per the Generic Salt Name (Wherever Possible) And Take Help of Pharmacist to Buy the Same at Better Discount. Government Has Recently Also Come Out with Strict Directive That All Retail Outlets Must Keep Generic Medicine Stock and Must Be Dispensed to Patients Who Are Asking for It.