SC notice on plea over preferring generic medicine
The Supreme Court Wednesday issued notice to the Centre, state governments, Union Territory administrations and the Drug Controller of India on a petition seeking direction to purchase drugs by their generic name instead of buying medicines marketed under brand names.
The bench of Justice Dipak Mishra and Justice V. Gopala Gowda said that "though there is a policy for the use of generic medicine and the same is not followed in proper perspective, as a result of which a large number of cheaper medicine of the same generic composition are not available for treatment".
The notice is returnable in six weeks.
Noting that the petition by advocate Reepak Kansal contains a number of prayers, the court said "the basic grievance which is demonstrable from the assertions made in the petition is that despite the National Health Policy introduced in 2002 for the use of generic drugs, and which fundamentally is a policy for ensuring health services for the country, the policy is not being appropriately implemented".
As a consequence of which, the court noted that "people living below the poverty line or slightly above it are not able to get medicines at the time of their suffering".
Appointing counsel B.H. Mariapalle as amicus curiae, the court said: "We are only inclined to issue notice on the basis of what we have said above."
The petitioner sought the intervention of the court with respect to "flagrant violation and abuse of health norms due to non-enforcement and non-implementation norms/prohibitions established under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and for not implementing the recommendations mentioned in the Sixth Five Year Plan for year 1980-85 till today..."
This, the petition, said violated the basic human rights as well as fundamental rights of the citizen to get proper and economical treatment.
"A National Health Policy was also formulated in 1983, envisaging the production of essential, life saving drugs under generic names and adoption of economical packaging practices, which would considerably reduce the unit cost of medicines bringing them within the reach of the poorer sections of society, besides significantly reducing the expenditures being incurred by the governmental organization on the purchase of drugs," the petition said.
Seeking to protect and safeguard citizens' right to health, the petition urged the court to direct "the concerned authorities/department/government to promote the use and prescription of generic drugs (a drug, which is of standard quality, unbranded and sold under its chemical name) as opposed to the medicines under branded names..."
The petitioner said "generic drugs are cheaper and possess all attributes, potency and properties of any medicine under branded name."
(Posted on 14-08-2014)