Technology propels the use of generic drugs.

Thursday April 7, 2022 at 11:09 pm

Technology can propel the industry toward increased use of generic drugs giving the prescribers required information on the various diseases it can cure and providing therapeutic substitution options to pharmacists, asserted Dr. Suresh Saravdekar. He is an Ex- Honorary Consultant at the Institute of Medical Sciences of BHU at Varanasi and the  Assistant Director at the Directorate of Medical Education & Research of Maharashtra.

While there is an ever-increasing adoption of technologies in the healthcare sector, a lot needs to be done in the area of essential drug monitoring. Several product gaps and delivery challenges remain unmet. That is because the priorities in research and development (R&D) are not ‘need-based’ but ‘market-based.’ The reality is that there are over about 10,000 diseases worldwide, including several orphan diseases that are left untreated as the drugs that can treat them are unavailable, he observed.

“We need generic medicines because of inadequate funds for the purchase and making it impossible to provide all medicines free of charge to the patients visiting public hospitals. That leads patients to purchase and procure the medicines as out of pocket expenses outside the hospital. Further, there is also a competition to sell the medicines leaving every firm to sell medicine at the best price of their choice,” stated Dr. Saravdekar.

Technology has revolutionized several aspects of medical treatment all over the world with the adoption of modern advancements like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) & deep learning (DL). Therefore, the pharma industry of India also needs to implement these technological advancements to be able to provide a justified mix of generics and their availability for all diseases, claimed Dr. Saravdekar while delving into the various Challenges in the Promotion of Generic Drugs Use in the country at a recently concluded virtually organized event by the department of pharmacology of AIIMS Hyderabad.

So, he continued,  the same medicine is sold in the open markets by at least a hundred companies masking its true identity and wrongly labeling it with thousands of different names to make it branded generics. Consequently, the market is flooded with lakhs and lakhs of medicines, and the same medicine may be available at a 100% higher price as well as at one-tenth of the fee charged by the other company to the patients he observed.

The biggest challenges are the availability of essential medicinal drugs and generics and increasing their accessibility in India. There are inadequate public fund allocations for the procurement of generic medicine by the governments and the unethical promotion of non-essential generic drugs at the cost of inexpensive essential drugs by the players in the industry. But technology has revolutionized all these concepts of medical treatment and health needs. We are in an age when all the health needs have already been identified by technology well in advance, and the pace with which new medicines are launched has increased with the use of technology in drug discovery, stated Dr. Saravdekar.

Questioning whether all essential medicines are available for all diseases, he said that the irony is that there are medicines for diseases and drugs for infections caused by medications.

The fact is that most medicines are currently available only for 500 diseases that are prevalent in rich and developed countries. Consequently, the present scale of development fails to match the gigantic scale of people’s needs for better access to medicine. That is particularly true in low-income countries (LICs) and low-income groups in middle-income countries, he added. The healthcare sector worldwide has come under the limelight of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which exposed the wide gap in access to healthcare facilities across the globe.