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States should promote generic drugs: Health minister

"While we pride ourselves in being a country which produces low-cost drugs, yet for many, even these low cost drugs are not available," Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said at a seminar on pharmacy

Ruing the lack of adequate health care for the economically weaker sections, Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today said he has asked state governments to promote generic drugs to help the poverty-stricken get access to medical care, reports PTI.

"While we pride ourselves in being a country which produces low-cost drugs, yet for many, especially weaker sections of the society, even these low cost drugs are not available," Mr Azad said in his address at a seminar on pharmacy.

The minister said he believed that the problem can be addressed by providing generic drugs as compared to branded drugs that are usually prescribed.

"We are requesting the state governments that they should promote generic drugs," he said, adding that doctors should write in prescriptions the names of the generic drugs alongside the branded ones.

"I see a big role for pharmacists in this area as they are the interface between the manufacturers and the buying public," he said.

Mr Azad said there was an urgent need for quality assurance in pharmacy education and this can be done through introduction of new courses, drafting of new regulations for undergraduate and post graduate courses, revising the course curriculum and conducting continuing education programmes for registered pharmacists.

"I am given to understand that the Pharmacy Council of India has addressed this issue through the introduction of an integrated course of six years," he said.

President Pratibha Patil, who inaugurated the seminar, said the Indian pharmaceuticals industry should draw on the resources of indigenous systems of medicine.

"Pharmacy education should be constantly revived and upgraded as it will give students the required exposure," she added.

The Indian pharmaceuticals industry is ranked third in terms of volume and 14th in terms of value.

The total turnover of this sector is over Rs1 lakh crore of which 40% is exported.

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