On June 16, the chief minister of Maharashtra made it compulsory for government hospitals in all districts to start selling generic medicines. However, much before this diktat came into play, one centre in Pune had already dedicated itself to making generic medicines available for the masses for many years.
Dr Sameer Mone, who has been running a clinic under the Lokayat Vaidyakeeya Kendra banner for the last seven years, tells Pune Mirror that most people and many doctors have a lack of awareness when it comes to generics.
|Pics: Mahendra Kolhe
|Dr Mone has been selling only generic medicines for the last seven years
Lokayat Vaidyakeeya Kendra on Law College Road is probably the only centre in Pune that makes it a point to sell only generic medicines. With over 70 different types of generic medicines, the centre provides relief against afflictions like cold, fever, throat infections, high blood pressure and diabetes, all at very low costs.
“Many of my clients cannot believe the prices of these medicines. Even when I tell them there is no difference between generics and branded medicines, it takes time for them to believe it,” said Mone.
Sudha Agashe, 65, a loyalist of Dr Mone’s ‘generics treatment’, has been coming to the centre ever since it started for her high BP problem. While the tablets she buys here to control her BP cost around Rs 191 for three months, the ones she buys in normal medical shops cost her Rs 450 – more than double the amount.
She told Mirror, “The differences in prices are vast but effects are the same. Even my brother from Satara buys his medicines here. I can vouch for the fact that there are no side effects, plus it saves you a lot of money!” said Agashe.
The doctor says most of his patients, who came to him bearing prescriptions with branded names, soon became loyalists of generic medicines. While he worked for an NGO earlier, he started this clinic with some colleagues only to distribute generics to people, and to provide consultancy on diabetes and BP issues.
“Very few generics are available for joint pains or psychological disorders and for cancer, not a single generic medicine is available, as in such high profile diseases the monopoly of big pharma companies is undeniable. But in case of vitamins and iron supplements, generic medicines are easily available,” said Mone.
Mone explained that most companies which sell branded products also make generics available for registered doctors or hospitals. “The government has even announced the same — but the ignorance of doctors has prevented generics from spreading. It is not a question of availability, it is a question of willingness,” added Mone.
Mone also said it is difficult to adulterate generic drugs, as many believe. he said, “Open drugs can be misused or adulterated, but packaged drugs are not easily tampered with,” he added.
► I can vouch for the fact that generic medicines have no side effects, plus they save you a lot of money
- Sudha Agashe, Dr Mone’s Patient