Doctors body fights for freedom on prescriptions, tells government to focus on price

The government is considering rules to make doctors write only generic names of drugs in prescriptions.

India’s largest professional medical body, the Indian Medical Association, has opposed the government’s suggestion that doctors should write generic names of drugs while prescribing medicines. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on April 17 that the government was considering such a rule, following which the Medical Council of India issued a circular reiterating its September 2016 notification, which already states that a doctor is expected to “prescribe drugs with generic names”.

But the Indian Medical Association is finding this hard to swallow. “Not writing a brand name is like asking people to vote but without mentioning the names, BJP or Congress,” said Dr KK Aggarwal, president of the association, which has close to 2.75 lakh members.

Generic drugs are those for which the patent has expired and may be branded or unbranded. Unbranded generics are referred to and sold under their International Non-proprietary names – the names that doctors are now expected to use when writing prescriptions. The government’s purported aim for the move is to ensure that patients are being given affordable medicines. Original branded medicines sold by large pharmaceutical companies are more expensive because they are marketed more extensively. Generic drugs are may be manufactured by smaller companies at lower costs and may have lower prices. Generic drugs have the same formulations as original drugs, as well as the same effect and can be as safe as branded drugs.

More than 90% of the medicine market in India is made up of branded generics. Members of the medical community and health activists have said that the government must move to reduce the profit margins on branded generics instead of trying to regulate doctors’ prescriptions.

Said uro-gynaecologist Dr Aparna Hegde: “Profits resulting from prescriptions most often benefit the pharmacist and/or the hospital and not the doctor because often it is former who decide which drug is given to the patient based on their available stock irrespective of the brand prescribed by the doctor. This practice of substitution [where a pharmacist may decide which drug to give] can be dangerous if maximising profits underlies the choice of the drugs stocked.”

Hegde is concerned about the quality generic drugs, especially non-branded generic drugs, given India’s poor drug regulatory systems.

Dr S Utture, elected member of Maharashtra Medical Council, said that the need to prescribe branded generic drugs arises because doctors have little faith in the non-branded generics. “The problem is that we have a very weak Food and Drug Authority,” he said. “If the FDA ensures that the non-branded drugs have the same bio availability [the amount of drug absorbed in the blood stream] as branded generics, there would be no problem.”

In a recent article on, S Srinivasan who runs Low Cost Standard Therapeutics, which manufactures essential medicines for rural and urban poor, wrote that the quality of a medicine does not necessarily depend on whether it is an expensive branded medicine or a less-expensive generic one. But much of the price of a branded medicine may be to cover the marketing costs to the manufacturer that might include special attention to doctors like gifts and paid holidays.

But instead of regulating doctors’ prescription habits, the Indian Medical Association wants the government to disallow differential pricing of the same drug under different brand names. “The judgment to prescribe a drug and the format lies with the registered medical practitioner,” said Aggarwal, calling this right to make such a judgment sacrosanct.

The Medical Council of India certainly does not think so. The council had tried to get doctors to write generic names in prescriptions last September when it amended its regulations.

Use of Generic names of drugs: Every physician should, as far as possible, prescribe drugs with generic names and he / she shall ensure that there is a rational prescription and use of drugs.

The above Clause – 1.5 is substituted in terms of Notification published in the Gazette of India on 08.10.2016 as under.

“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”

— September 2016 amendment to the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations 2002

“The amendment clearly says ‘should’ prescribe medicines with generic names and not ‘shall’, which clearly means that it is a doctors’ discretion,” countered Aggarwal.

He insisted that the association’s members may prescribe the medicines using their generic names but will continue to “put the brand name in the brackets”.

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Why should inclusion matter to companies?

It's not just about goodwill - inclusivity is a good business decision.

To reach a 50-50 workplace scenario, policies on diversity need to be paired with a culture of inclusiveness. While diversity brings equal representation in meetings, board rooms, promotions and recruitment, inclusivity helps give voice to the people who might otherwise be marginalized or excluded. Inclusion at workplace can be seen in an environment that values diverse opinions, encourages collaboration and invites people to share their ideas and perspectives. As Verna Myers, a renowned diversity advocate, puts it “Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance.”

Creating a sense of belonging for everyone is essential for a company’s success. Let’s look at some of the real benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace:

Better decision making

A whitepaper by Cloverpop, a decision making tool, established a direct link between inclusive decision making and better business performance. The research discovered that teams that followed an inclusive decision-making process made decisions 2X faster with half the meetings and delivered 60% better results. As per Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino, this report highlights how diversity and inclusion are practical tools to improve decision making in companies. According to her, changing the composition of decision making teams to include different perspectives can help individuals overcome biases that affect their decisions.

Higher job satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is connected to a workplace environment that values individual ideas and creates a sense of belonging for everyone. A research by Accenture identified 40 factors that influence advancement in the workplace. An empowering work environment where employees have the freedom to be creative, innovative and themselves at work, was identified as a key driver in improving employee advancement to senior levels.


A research by stated the in India, 62% of innovation is driven by employee perceptions of inclusion. The study included responses from 1,500 employees from Australia, China, Germany, India, Mexico and the United States and showed that employees who feel included are more likely to go above and beyond the call of duty, suggest new and innovative ways of getting work done.

Competitive Advantage

Shirley Engelmeier, author of ‘Inclusion: The New Competitive Business Advantage’, in her interview with Forbes, talks about the new global business normal. She points out that the rapidly changing customer base with different tastes and preferences need to feel represented by brands. An inclusive environment will future-proof the organisation to cater to the new global consumer language and give it a competitive edge.

An inclusive workplace ensures that no individual is disregarded because of their gender, race, disability, age or other social and cultural factors. Accenture has been a leading voice in advocating equal workplace. Having won several accolades including a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate equality index, Accenture has demonstrated inclusive and diverse practices not only within its organisation but also in business relationships through their Supplier Inclusion and Diversity program.

In a video titled ‘She rises’, Accenture captures the importance of implementing diverse policies and creating an inclusive workplace culture.


To know more about inclusion and diversity, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Accenture and not by the Scroll editorial team.