NEW DELHI: The Centre has decided to bar medical practitioners at single-doctor clinics and small nursing homes that don’t have registered pharmacies, from selling branded medicines or vaccines to patients.
The decision came following widespread complaints that doctors sell pills to patients without having drug licences, in the name of dispensing medicines, taking advantage of ambiguous norms. To remove the ambiguity, the government intends to suitably amend the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. The new proposal approved by the drug consultative committee under the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, will limit doctors to supplying only generic medicines or physician samples for free.
Schedule K of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act at present allows doctors to sell medicines to patients even without a drug licence or without billing patients separately for the medicines sold.
“Currently, there is no specific category that can be supplied by registered medical practitioners to their patients,” it was noted by the committee in a meeting last month, as per its minutes accessed by this newspaper.
The panel headed by the Drug Controller General of India agreed to amend the clause to specify the medicines - only generic and physician samples - that doctors can offer to patients.
“Following the decision, we are in the process of notifying the amendment,” said a ministry official. Though there is no exact data on single- or multi-doctor establishments where the practitioner dispenses drugs, a ballpark estimate by officials suggested the figure across India could cross two lakh.
Doctors do not seem happy. “This decision will cause lots of difficulties to single-clinic practitioners as well as hospitals having licensed medical shops as it will lead to unnecessary harassment from the drug control authority and could lead to a jump in cases under the Consumer Protection Act,” said Ravi Wankhedkar, Indian Medical Association member.