Bangalore: From pain killers to antibiotics to insulin vials, they are available but at half the price at this unique shop which has been doing brisk business, selling medicines worth Rs 8,000-10,000 per day. The first of its kind, the generic drug shop at the Victoria Hospital has proved to be a blessing in disguise for many suffering and poor patients from the city and even neighbouring districts. Since its inception, the shop has received an overwhelming response with hundreds of patients queuing to buy medicines.
These stores will sell both generic and branded medicines authorised by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), surgical equipment and orthopedic implants. These drugs will be available at subsidised rates, almost 60 per cent less than the maximum retail price. With two generic stores already in operation in the state, 18 more will be opened in government medical hospitals by the end of this year. Bangalore will soon see three more shops — Kidwai Hospital, Bowring Hospital and K C General Hospital. Plans are afoot to open such stores at government run hospitals too.
“One can buy medicines worth Rs 1,000 for just Rs 250 at this shop, the drugs are cheaper by 60-70 per cent. Every day, we get 450-500 patients who mostly come for diabetic and hypertension ailments. A drug like Atorvastatis is available for Rs 13 per 10 tablets while the branded Atorva costs Rs 77 per 10 tablets,” says Suresh, Supervisor.
The first-of-its-kind generic drug shop at the Victoria Hospital has proved to be a blessing in disguise.
Presently working on a 12-hour-shift, it will soon work round the clock. Suresh furthers says, “Patients are thronging the shop for purchasing all kinds of medicines for both common and chronic diseases. Some have even placed orders for medicines that are not available. With the success of such designated stores, the demand for generic drugs in the city is expected to increase.”
With majority of poor patients having no access to either any private or government health insurance cover, the initiative comes as a boon to patients who cannot afford costly branded drugs. “There should be at least one shop in each locality and government should encourage setting up of such shops in the private sector too by making the procedures easier,” says D L Mohanraj, a pharmaceutical entrepreneur. All medicines can be manufactured under generic forms but a manufacturer wouldn’t like to, in view of the huge profits earned in branded ones.
Many pharmaceutical companies market branded drugs for common ailments like cold, cough, fever, indigestion and headaches that is four or five times costlier. A well know drug shop owner says, “Usually, a drug store gets about one in 1000 patients for anti-cancer medicines while the demand is more, about 500 per 1000, when it comes to BP or diabetes medicines.”
“This initiative will benefit all sections of society especially the poor but only OTC drugs are available in the generic category while the badly needed cardiac medicines and important antibiotics in India are branded ones,” says Nagarajan, a bulk drug manufacturer and adds, “The government will have to sustain this programme by procuring drugs from its own companies.”
With the government showing serious concerns and initiating the setting up of more generic shops in the state and also proposing to send a circular to all hospitals requesting the doctors to prescribe generic drugs only, it remains to be seen whether the doctors abide by their Hypocrite’s oath or fall prey to the pharmaceutical’s dragnet.
What are generic drugs?
Generic drugs are normally marketed under its chemical name without advertising and after the expiry of the patents. Once the generic drugs become available in the market, the resulting competition leads to substantially lower prices, both for the original brand product and the generic forms.