By invitation: let the doctor be the guardian of the patient’s health

In a country of 1.4 billion people like India, brands play a major role in enabling consumers to differentiate quality products from inferior ones. Brands represent the leaders of a particular category of products in any industry. The pharmaceutical industry builds brands that represent trust and ensure quality patient care.

However, there is a growing belief that brands are driving rising healthcare costs and only benefiting brand owners. If that’s true, why have brand name drugs been around for decades? Do brands endanger the health of patients? What role do brands play in patient care? Patients choosing a branded generic are the same as a customer choosing a branded product. One of my most trusted doctors once told me that generic drugs are not trustworthy while brand name generics keep his patient safe. The genesis of our conversation was to build trust and ensure quality, which was partly resolved when the government launched the Jan Aushadhi (JAS – 2008) scheme to brand generic drugs and bring competition loyal to branded generic drugs.

Large share of health expenditure

Drug prices in India are among the lowest in the world. But unlike other countries that have strong health insurance, most Indians pay out of pocket. This represents around 28% of their healthcare expenditure on medicines, compared to a global average of 15%.

For patients, the doctor is the guardian of their health.

For patients, the doctor is the guardian of their health. | Photo credit:

For patients, the doctor is the guardian of their health. Doctors prescribe a drug that they trust to treat the patient because they are responsible for the health of the patient. Doctors know that not all brands are the same and that substitutions can lead to health complications for patients. The potency of each drug depends on the manufacturing, distribution and storage processes.

Manufacturers of some branded drugs are focused on developing and upgrading their products. The brand image encourages innovation and creates value around the best expected results based on clinical research which represents the trust and quality of a medicine.

Quality standards

India has over 10,000 manufacturers and 30,000 manufacturing units. We need to strengthen quality standards and implement strict punitive measures to fight falsified and non-standard quality (NSQ) medicines.

The choice of drugs should be left to doctors and their patients rather than being determined by some other factor. Let the doctor be the guardian of the patient’s health.

(The author is a consumer policy expert. Opinions are personal.)

About Margie Peters

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