Generic medicine, a better option for flood hit Kashmir

Since the devastating floods hit parts of Jammu and Kashmir, relief material in large quantities is being flown in to Srinagar airport. The first preference is given to essential goods that sadly include medicines too. Essential drugs were first in order, as most of the pharmacies in flood hit areas remained submerged. Moreover, flood waters usually become cause of many diseases that in turn increases the demand of medicines.

Regrettably, we could have brought in a lot more medicines at the same cost, had we been well-informed about the concept of generic medicines. We lack education perhaps because the market leaders don’t want us to learn something that would threaten their thriving trade. Those of us who are aware feel self-doubting bearing in mind that it’s unpopular, hence don’t chase it anymore. Definitely doctors know, but it seems many of them are barely concerned about the pocket of poor patients. Not even one doctor out of many I have consulted to in my lifetime has advised me or my family members to buy generic medicine.

Leave regular situations aside, at a time of catastrophe like we are presently in, I suppose the use of generic medicine would be more favourable than branded ones. The most common myth about the notion is that it is bogus or substandard remedy, which is not true. Generic medicine is one which is not sold under a brand name, but under its chemical name without advertising. It is no different than the same drug sold in market under a brand name. For example, name of a common drug is ‘Paracetamol’ but it is sold under the brand names like Paracip and Crocin. Both are same with regards to quality, performance, dosage, and intended use. The only difference is the price and packaging, the reason for which is difference in marketing and business intentions. Generic medicine is usually labelled with the name of manufacturing company and the non-proprietary name of the drug (eg. Paracetamol, Aspirin, and Amoxicillin).

Generic medicine is generally sold at a significantly lesser price than its branded counterpart. The reason is uncomplicated; the cost of branded drugs include marketing cost, which is usually several times more than manufacturing cost of the drug. Besides this, the cost also depends on a number of other financial factors.

Jan Aushadhi is an Indian Government initiative to retail unbranded quality generic medicine at lesser price than branded ones. Under the initiative, stores have been opened across the country including Delhi, a city wherefrom large quantity of medicines was flown in to Srinagar for aid of flood affected people. But the bulk of medicine was conceivably not purchased in generic form. I understood this after I saw hundreds of medical consignments reaching Srinagar that had branded drugs. In fact, many of the essential medicines are available in generic forms under Jan Aushadhi initiative.

During last ten days of crisis in Kashmir, I noticed that most of the people, who voluntarily helped flood affected people by sending large consignments of medicines to Srinagar, purchased them from general medical shops across India, and not from generic stores. If so, it would have been easily possible to send much bigger consignments at the same cost.