Most doctors practicing privately here don’t prescribe generic medicines for patients but brand names, thus flouting the guidelines of the Medical Council of India (MCI). That is not all. Many doctors also do not provide a receipt against the fees charged by them in their private clinics nor do they clearly display their charges for consultation in their clinics, thus violating the MCI Code of Ethics Regulation, 2002. During visits to a few private clinics in the National Capital, this correspondent saw that doctors do not either prescribe generic medicines nor do they provide a receipt against their consultation fees.

Dr Girish Tyagi, Director of the Delhi Medical Council, said that it is mostly because people are not aware of the rules and regulations of the MCI that they fail to question their doctors for not providing a receipt.“People are unaware of the rules and thus don’t question the doctors or demand a receipt. But, as and when we get a complaint, we take necessary action,” he said.

“We will try and notify the doctors again to follow the code and ethics of the MCI. We can also give advertisements in the newspapers to make the common people aware of their rights when they approach a doctor for consultation and this might improve the situation,” Dr Tyagi said. However, many doctors as well as the Indian Medical Association (IMA) said that doctors are “soft targets”.

Dr Kiranshankar Deoras, IMA chairman, told The Sunday Guardian: “Most of the doctors give receipts because we have to show in our records.”

Asked about why doctors do not prescribe generic medicines, he said that such medicines are less available and most of the generic medicines available are not genuine. The branded companies are coming with medicines with uniform prices and if the companies making generic medicines can assure that they have genuine medicines, we have no problem with prescribing them. Our ultimate priority is our patients.”. Dr Deoras also raised concerns about generic medicines being prepared by pharmacists and not trained doctors, thus leading to spurious medicines in several places across the country. He also said that more strict laws should be in place to regulate pharmacists as many sell restricted and “Schedule-H” drugs over the counter, thus jeopardising the lives of several people.

Advocate Mahinder Kumar Bajpai, an expert on medical laws from the Institute of Medicine and Law, Mumbai, said, “The right to demand a receipt from any service provider remains with the consumer and here the doctor is a mere service provider in the eyes of the law. He is bound by law to give a receipt against his service. ”