In a significant move, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has issued instructions to the state drug controllers to ensure that the private retail chemist shops maintain separate shelves or racks to make generic medicines available to the people. This is aimed at making medicines available at a cheaper cost to the common man.

A source, having knowledge of the matter, said as of now this is an instruction but soon it will be made mandatory and legal, after which the licences of the chemist shops may be cancelled if they fail to comply with the government directive.

The issue was being discussed with the Drug Consultative Committee and Drug Technical Advisory Board, and that it has now been decided that every chemist shop, including the private ones, will provide a separate rack, reserved exclusively for generic medicines. These will be distinctly separated from other medicines so that these are visible to the people, he added. It is to be noted that the Centre already provides cheaper medicines to the people through its 3,000 Jan Aushadhi stores all across the country.

The decision is part of the Centre’s move to encourage the use of generic medicines. The drug industry in India is to the tune of Rs 90,000 crore. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech last year had declared that the government would introduce rules to promote the use of generic medicines.

The government had proposed an amendment to the Drug and Cosmetic rules to make it mandatory for the doctors to prescribe generic medicines.

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