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Star stamp on generic drugs.

THE ' guest appearance' of Aamir Khan before a parliamentary committee discussing pharmaceutical industry on Thursday appeared to be more a star moment for parliamentarians than serious work.

The ostensible reason for Khan's parliamentary do was to present his views on the need to promote generic drugs in the country. The actor had featured generic drugs as one of the themes in his show Satyamev Jayate recently.

It is no fault of the star that he was invited to be a witness before the standing committee on commerce. The fault lies with his hosts who appear to be blissfully unaware of the work being done on generic drugs by other panels of the parliament.

The parliamentary standing committee on health is already seized of the generic drugs issue. It has deliberated on it for long and has made detailed recommendations in its report submitted in May 2012. This report on ' issues relating to availability of generic, generic- branded and branded medicines, their formulations and therapeutic efficacy' had blamed the Department of Pharmaceuticals ( DoP) for the tardy progress on this account.

All this was much before Aamir ' discovered' generic drugs.

DoP which is supposed to promote generic or cheaper versions of branded drugs is going slow on this count, resulting in continued flooding of the market with costly branded drugs, the panel had observed. Generic drugs are several times cheaper than branded drugs of same efficacy but are difficult to find.

The department, according to the report, has failed to ensure availability of generic drugs. It was supposed to have promoted a string of generic drug stores called Jan Aushadhi all over the country but just handful of them have been set up so far.

No deadline has been set for implementing this scheme, which in the panel's view " gives an impression that the issue of promotion of generic drugs is being soft- pedalled". Generic drug stores are to be set up in collaboration with state governments and voluntary bodies in government hospitals to begin with. At present, over 100 such stores including three in Delhi are working. Original plan was to have 3000 of them within two years.

Committee chairman Shanta Kumar rejected suggestions that the actor's appearance was more of a ' publicity stunt' and said anyone with an interest in the subject was free to depose before parliamentary panels.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Jun 22, 2012
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