Sri Lanka poised to launch mandatory generics-first policy

Sri Lanka's government is expected to move quickly to implement a generics-first drug prescriptions law just passed by parliament. It would require physicians to prescribe a generic in every case one is available.

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said the government's eventual move would be to amend the days-old law to require doctors to use only generic names in prescribing drugs, and within three years to be able to make all the drugs and medical devices the nation needs at home.

The new National Medicine Regulatory Authority Act replaces the Cosmetics, Devices and Drugs Act and creates the National Consultative Committee as the nation's drugs and devices regulatory authority. The NCC membership must include at least two pharmacology experts, NewsFirst reported.

The new law would allow a physician to prescribe the branded version of a drug only if no generic were available and even then, pharmacists would be required to inform patients of the range of their choices of brands.

The health minister told the Sunday Times Sri Lanka relies on India-made drugs for 80 percent of its supply now, but wants to free itself of a reliance on imports that might have quality and supply problems.

Other changes in the nation's drug industry also lie ahead, he said, including establishment of a standard price that would control current drug maker practices of marking up their prices by huge numbers, as much as 500 percent in some cases.

- here's a Sunday Times article
- more from NewsFirst