The Government is to introduce legislation banning the prescription of drugs by brand names.
Health Minister Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva told The Island that in future doctors will be compelled to prescribe drugs by their generic name. The reason for this he said was the government spends Rs.16.5 billion to Rs.19.2 billion annually to purchase drugs despite the annual allocation for the Health Ministry to import drugs is only Rs.7.4 billion to Rs.10.1 billion.
He said that in the year 2006 the government had to spend around Rs.19.2 billion to purchase drugs through multinational drug companies. The allocation for that year was only Rs.10.1 billion. An islandwide survey, carried out by the Health Ministry had revealed that doctors in the public sector were deliberately prescribing highly expensive drugs to patients instead of inexpensive drugs that are freely available.
The Medical Supplies Division (MSD) had, on several occasions, pointed out that the government would have to double its annual expenditure on drug imports as the practice of prescribing highly expensive drugs and unnecessary drugs to patients had been going on unabated.
The recurrent expenditure on drugs and surgical gauze was skyrocketing even though cheap and quality drugs were available. Prescribing brand names had also caused heavy financial constraints.
Minister de Silva said under the new legislation doctors will be compelled to prescribe only generic names instead of brand names. The legislation is being enacted in the wake of doctors declining a Health Ministry`s request to prescribe inexpensive drugs with their generic names. After the new legislation is enacted doctors who defy the order will be punished.