Evaluating Perceptions Of Community Pharmacists On
Generic/Branded Medicines In The State Of Haryana, India

G.L. Singal and Arun Nanda

Generic medicines play a key role in ensuring the affordability and sustainability of healthcare system throughout the world and India is considered as a powerhouse of the generic medicines. In spite of the fact that the generic medicines are cost effective and affordable to their branded counterpart, yet vast population over the world goes without medicines especially in under developed nations. Although generic medicines are produced under similar manufacturing facilities and undergo strict quality control test as their branded counterpart but these are generally perceived as of inferior quality to the branded ones among the stakeholders including the medical fraternity.

Dispensing pharmacist plays an important role in the health care system as a linkage between the patient and doctor. Private community pharmacies are the main source of medicines in many developing countries, including India as compared to the public facilities.1,2 Consumers tend to utilize private pharmacies rather than the public sector pharmacies because of ease of access, shorter waiting period, more flexible opening hours, availability of credit and over the counter access. Although, the Indian Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940 and Rules 1945 stipulates sale and dispensing of prescription medicines under the direct supervision of registered pharmacist but practically majority of prescription drugs are sold over the counter. 61.2% of the prescription only medicines were found dispensed over the counter during a study carried out in the State of Tamilnadu in the year 2010.3
Keeping in view the present dispensing practices in the country it was thought prudent to explore the perceptions of community pharmacist who cater majority of ailing population as to what they feel about the generic vis--vis branded medicines. Their dispensing practices and perceptions about generic/branded medicines directly affect the patients, in so far as the availability, choice and safe usage of medicines is concerned. Therefore, a necessity was felt to carry out extensive study for evaluating the dispensing patterns of community pharmacists, their views on generics vis-a-vis branded medicines and prescriptions handled by them. The study also became must/important in view of the numerous reported studies about the negative perceptions of prescribing physicians about the quality and efficacy of generic medicines throughout the world.4,5,6 Similar observations were made during a recent study evaluating the perceptions and prescription patterns of physicians in the State of Haryana.7 No such study has been undertaken in the past and this is the first such kind of study in the country as well as in the State of Haryana. Efforts were also made to scratch the mind of pharmacists regarding their concepts and understanding about the quality and efficacy of the generics vis--vis branded medicines. A pre-validated data collection form was used to assess their views on various parameters depicting their perceptions and practices about generics. Contents of the data collection form are reproduced below in Table 1.



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