After reading the ethical guidelines I am of the view that doctors are unnecessarily agitated over the MCI circular. The concerned section is as follows. “1.5 – Use of Generic names of drugs: Every physician should prescribe drugs with generic names legibly and preferably in capital letters and he/ she shall ensure that there is a rational prescription and use of drugs.”
The section nowhere directs that “the physician shall not write the brand names”. The direction is “every physician should prescribe drugs with generic names”. Thus one can write the generic name of the medicine followed by the brand of the medicine. Or the brand followed by the generic name. Thus the patient will be free to buy the branded or the generic as per his choice. But by writing the brand as well, it is implied that direction to the patient is to buy the particular brand because you are assured about the quality of the particular brand. It will also be implied that the though the patient is free to buy the generic one, he will do it at his own risk and the doctor cannot ensure the quality of the generic one.
Now if the physician is accused that the it is promotion of the brand, the defence will lie in the second clause of the section, i.e. “he/she shall ensure that there is a rational prescription and use of drugs.” Rational prescription definitely means prescribing quality medicines. You are writing the brand as you are sure about the quality of the brand, but not sure about the quality of the generic equivalent. No one can accuse you for violation of the code of ethics.
The controversy is quite unnecessary and it has resulted from the populist nature of the steps being taken only to get political milage. It is a necessary hazard of our democracy. If the Government is really concerned about availability of quality medicine at cheap rates, the aim should be to bring gradually almost all the medicines under the DPCO and strengthen the concerned administrative machinery for its proper implementation in true sense. Proper process of fixing price under DPCO should also be implemented and not simply taking the average of the prices of the available brands. The cost of production, distribution, promotion and the profit should be taken into account.
THE IMA must take appropriate steps.
@ Dr. C. L. Narayan, GAYA.