Insist on prescription medicine, ‘local drugs’ can be harmful: Doctors

Bengaluru: Sale of alternative drugs to the standard ones prescribed by doctors by chemists in the city is causing concern among health experts.

While many chemists in the city suggest alternative drugs with the same combination if the prescribed are not available, some of these  drugs could have a different molecular make-up, leading to serious health complications, warn doctors.

Explains Dr Sachin Sinha, secretary, Narain Sewa Sansthan, “The suggested drugs by the chemists may have less molecules, forcing the patient to take them for longer. These drugs are called local drugs or propaganda drugs and the chemists get a huge margin by selling them.”

Dr Deepesh Venkatraman, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, BGS Gleneagles Global Hospitals warns that substitution of brands may cause a drop in efficacy due to lower quality of products. “Sometimes it can even alter the dosing schedule based on extended release formulations or cause serious life threatening mishaps if replaced by a similar sounding molecule with a completely different action,” he adds.

Dr Harshitha Sridhar, Consultant, Emergency and Critical Care, Vikram Hospital, says those with high blood pressure and the elderly are particularly at risk when there is a change of drugs from the ones prescribed by the doctors. “Some patients may be allergic to different molecules , which the chemists might not know,” he notes.

A study conducted in collaboration between the University of Eastern Finland, Finnish Medicines Agency (Fimea) and The Social Insurance Institution of Finland also highlights how potentially inappropriate medication can lead to fractures or even death.

But denying the allegation, Mr  V.Harikrishnan, president, Suvarna Karnataka Chemists and Distributors Association, says they are governed by rules and regulations and cannot distribute alternate drugs to those prescribed. “Even the patients don’t agree to use them  if a chemist suggests it,”  he claims.

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