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Indian Government to launch own brand of generics Posted 06/03/2015

Not happy with its current control over the price of drugs in the country, the Indian Government has announced plans to launch its own brand of low cost generics.

The ‘Jan Aushadhi’ brand will be launched on 1 July 2015 and will be available in both Jan Aushadhi stores and retail pharmacies in India.

The first Jan Aushadhi store was opened in November 2008, but the performance and achievements in the last five years have been ‘below par’, according to the Indian Government. Problems identified by the government include a poor supply chain, the sourcing of drugs exclusively from central public sector units (CPSUs – or government-owned corporations) and a lack of a focussed publicity campaign.

In order to address these issues the government has formulated a new business plan for the stores, with changes to be implemented including:

  • Simplification of identification of operating agencies
  • Process opened for pharmacists/entrepreneurs to be appointed as operating agencies
  • Possibility for stores to be opened outside hospitals
  • Widening of the drugs offered at stores to 361 drugs covering all therapeutic categories
  • Online supply chain management to monitor availability of drugs
  • Sourcing of drugs no longer restricted to only CPSUs

The government has established its own procurement system and a central warehouse to house its Jan Aushadhi generics, ensuring strict adherence to quality protocols. The drugs will be acquired in bulk from public as well as private drug manufacturing firms and re-branded under the Jan Aushadhi brand. These will then be sold in the retail market at a competitive price, allowing consumers to buy a cheaper yet quality product from the government.

The government plans to open a further 3,000 new Jan Aushadhi stores in the next four years and is planning an awareness and media campaign to encourage doctors to prescribe generics. Several surveys have shown that generics in India have a poor quality image, both in the mindset of prescribers as well as patients, despite studies showing that generics are of the same quality as brand-name medicines.

Convincing doctors to prescribe drugs by their generic names rather than by brand names is critical for the revival of Jan Aushadhi scheme. Currently, pharmacists are not legally allowed to substitute unbranded generics in place of prescribed branded generics in India.

The move to revitalize the Jan Aushadhi scheme comes in the wake of the Indian Government’s decision to scrap plans to extend price cuts on both generic and brand-name drugs to include ‘non-essential’ drugs [1].

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Reference
1.   GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. India drops planned price caps on non-essential drugs [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2015 Mar 6]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Policies-Legislation/India-drops-planned-price-caps-on-non-essential-drugs

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Source: Jan Aushadhi, WHO

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