Author Topic: "Drugs - "Generic name" Vs. "Brand name"  (Read 2789 times)

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Offline sithari

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"Drugs - "Generic name" Vs. "Brand name"
« on: September 14, 2006, 10:49:58 PM »
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The National Health authorities take up the position that doctors should prescribe drugs by their generic names and not by their brand names. While doctors do not openly challenge this, they do openly disregard the principle, when most of them prescribe drugs by the brand name, and sometimes even stamp the prescription with a "No Substitutes" stamp.

The patients are still confused as to whether they would run the risk by opting to purchase cheaper drugs of 'generic' description, which are commonly called "SPC" drugs, or whether they should solemnly follow the doctors prescription of a branded drug, however much it may be expensive.

A patient's selective action to purchase a drug by its generic name, as against the doctor's advice to buy a branded drug, as well as a doctor's prescription of a generic variety due to an enforced rule, may run the following risks.

Every drug of generic description will have a brand name to locate the manufacturer's identity. Prescribing a medicine only by its generic name leaves it open to the pharmacist to issue what ever brand he pleases.

The pharmacist will not show a list of brands under each generic description and provide the opportunity to the customer to pick one from such list. Even if he does so, if the customer is poor he may select the cheaper one, and if the customer is rich or snobbish, he may opt for the expensive one.

The question is how educative is a patient or customer to select the best one out of the lot. Similarly how medically educative is the pharmacist to select the most appropriate brand for a particular patient.

The pressure on medical practitioners to recommend generic names as against brand names is based on the foregone conclusion that prescribing drugs by generic names ensures the customer a cheaper drug of the same quality as an expensive branded one.

]This may not be so, firstly because, as I have said earlier, it is still left for the pharmacist to dispense an expensive one of his choice, on which he will have a higher profit. Secondly, the foregone conclusion is also made that a cheaper drug is as good as an expensive (branded ) variety. This too is not correct, since, although a cheaper drug will also have the same amount of the main active ingredients and performs the basic job, an expensive variety will always be superior in its application on a particular patient.

A cheaper variety may have side effects, which a particular patient cannot cope up with. The expensive brand may not, for instance, cause stomach irritation (Eg. enteric coated aspirin). An expensive variety will be convenient in usage like the facility of taking one tablet daily and not three times (Retard, Slow Release, Sustained Release, etc). A cheaper brand may have uncomfortable side effects.

The doctor's the best judge of what drug should be prescribed to a particular patient. He will take in to account the other complications his patient may be having or due to the patient insisting on a convenient dosage or minimal side effects.

A drug can be expensive not simply because it has a famous brand name, but because of higher costs on account of expensive research, refined ingredients, other additives or supplement, etc., resulting in minimal side effects, or absence of adverse drug effects.

In other commodities, other than medicines, the choice can be left to the customer to select what his purse permits. He will definitely know the superiority of an expensive one, but decide to settle for the cheaper one despite its poor quality or performance, knowingly compromising quality for affordability.

But in the case of drugs, he should better leave it, for his own good, to the doctors, and not for himself or the pharmacist, to determine what is best for him. I don't think anyone has a right to interfere with the doctor's responsibility of determining the correct type, including brand name, of medicine that should be prescribed for his patient.

Doctors should loudly educate the ignorant public and the rule makers as well, as to why they prescribe drugs by brand name.

If they are honest, they can also clear the unfair allegations that they are in the pockets of drug manufacturers. What needs to be enunciated is not "generic" or "brand", but a cheaper drug with appropriate performance for the individual patient.

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