India is globally best in health industry, should not be compared with other countries: Gujarat High Court

The High Court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) petition seeking directions to the National Medical Commission to frame rules for mandating doctors to prescribe generic medicines instead of branded ones.
Gujarat High Court
Gujarat High Court

The Gujarat High Court on Thursday observed that India is globally the best in health industry and thus it should not be compared with any foreign country [Anang Manubhai Shah vs Union of India].

A division bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh J Shastri took exception to a counsel, who while arguing a public interest litigation (PIL) petition on generic medicines, compared India to Europe.

"Mr Counsel, we are not Europe. In fact, India is considered to be the best as far as the health industry is concerned. So please stop comparing India with other countries," Chief Justice Kumar remarked.

The bench then proceeded to issue a notice to the National Medical Commission and other authorities to respond to the PIL petition by January 30.

The PIL petition sought a direction to the Commission to frame rules with regard to the sale of generic medicines, mandating doctors to prescribe generic medicines instead of branded ones.

"Price of a generic tablet is way lesser than a branded one. Suppose a branded tablet is worth ₹10 then for generic it would be ₹1. Thus, we seek directions to the Commission," the counsel submitted.

However, the bench said that it cannot issue such a direction to the Commission as it fell within the domain of the executive.

"We cannot enter into the domain of the executive. This is a policy issue. What is to be done how it is to be done etc. for all these questions Court cannot be an answer," CJ Kumar remarked.

During the hearing, the counsel highlighted that it is the public at large which is affected because of doctors prescribing the branded medicines. He said that doctors must prescribe names of generic medicines so that people do not have to pay hefty amounts.

"Then ask for a direction to the doctor to use names of generic medicines and not the branded ones," CJ quipped.

The Chief Justice, however, explained the issue for prescribing the names of generic medicines.

He said, "See if it is a paracetamol then it is okay but there are other medicines which we can't even spell. So if doctors start writing the composition of the medicines or the generic names neither you will understand nor the chemist."

The bench then posted the matter for hearing on January 30.

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