One of the key topics discussed in Satyamev Jayate’s episode titled ‘Every Life is Precious’ was generic medicines, i.e., substitutes for branded drugs that provide the same treatment quality at a fraction of the cost. Generic medicines are available at every wholesale medicine market from where they can be procured for retail sale. In fact, Regulation 1.5 of the Medical Council Regulations 2002 says that every physician should, as far as possible, prescribe generic medicines.
A generic medicine shop can be opened by anyone after procuring a drug retail license from your local Drug Control Authority. Apart from generic medicines, surgical items like an IV set, a blood transfusion set, needle, cannulas, orthopaedic implants, eye lenses, cardiac stents, etc. can be sold as well. However, affordable healthcare is still a distant reality for thousands of Indians who aren't even aware that a generic substitute is available for the expensive medicine they have been prescribed.
Hundreds of you asked us about how you can open a generic medicine shop. Here is some information compiled from the Jan Aushadhi website (a Government of India initiative) and from articles by experts Dr Samit Sharma and Advocate Anil Kilor who have played a huge role in opening generic medicine shops:
How can I open a generic medicine shop?
- Procure a license from the office of the local Drug Control Authority. In some states, the license can be obtained online as well. (The license fee should cost around Rs 3,000.)
- Hire a pharmacist having D. Pharm. or B. Pharm qualification with valid registration of State Pharmaceutical Council.
- As an NGO or co-operative society, you can approach the Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) to recommend you to run a generic medicine shop in the premise of any hospital. However, you don't need a recommendation to open a shop.
- If you are recommended by the BPPI, you will be provided a space of at least 120 sq. ft. for free for your shop. If not, you can buy or rent a space of the same size or more.
The Jan Aushadhi website has more guidelines on how to open a generic medicine shop. To see the guidelines, click here.
What do I need to open a generic medicine shop under the Jan Aushadhi scheme?
- A space of at least 120 sq. ft.
- A minimum of two display boards (one horizontal, one vertical) as provided by the BPPI
- Racks to store medicines and a counter to issue bills and medicines
- A computer and internet connection to load the required BPPI software
What should I keep in mind while running a generic medicine shop?
- Insist your stockist for an authorization certificate, a valid bill / cash memo and certificate of analysis (test report) for every batch of each drug. This will ensure quality standards.
- Display a list of available generic drugs outside your shop to generate awareness among patients.
- Persuade doctors in your locality to prescribe generic medicines.
- Counsel the patients who come to your shop on how generic medicines are not different or inferior to their branded counterparts.
How should I choose a generic medicine company to source drugs from?
- Ask your doctor for a list of drugs that are commonly prescribed by their generic name. Ask him / her for names of 15–20 companies that he / she considers as reliable.
- Invite an open tender from these companies using the list of medicines given by your doctor. Compare the prices that the different companies give you and choose the 'best buy'.
Am I entitled to financial assistance for opening a generic medicine shop?
- A margin of 16% on the sale price is built in the MRP of each drug.
- You can apply to the BPPI for a grant of up to Rs 50,000.
Is there a generic medicine shop where I live?
The Jan Aushadhi website lists the locations of generic medicine shops across different states of India. You can see the list here. Additionally, Dr Samit Sharma says that there are about 72 shops in Rajasthan by the name of ‘Life Line Drug Stores’. These are operational in medical college hospitals, district, sub-district and satellite hospitals.
If you know of any generic medicine shop that is not listed on the above link, you can share with us their name and address by leaving a comment at the end of this article.
Do all medicines in India have a generic substitute?
Around 97% of branded medicines have a generic substitute. They are just as strong, pure and stable as branded medicines.
To know the generic name of the medicine you are looking for, you can also use a free web service such as www.TrueMD.in. This website has a database of over 1 lakh medicines.
The table below illustrates the vast difference in the cost of branded and generic medicines. Share this with your friends to spread awareness.
COST COMPARISION – GENERIC VS BRANDED DRUGS
|Disease / Use
||Generic Name of Drug
||Price of Generic Drug
||Equivalent Popular Brand
||Price of Branded Drug
||Diclofenac Sodium Tablets IP 50 mg
||10 tab strip
|Cholesterol lowering drug
||Atorvastatin Tablets IP 10mg
||10 tab blister
||Clopidogrel Tablets IP 75 mg
||14 tab strip
||Glimepiride Tablets IP 2 mg
||10 tab strip
Source: Dr Samit Sharma
To see a detailed price list of generic medicines, click here.