The Drug controller general of India has moved to prohibit medicines from being sold under brand names. As a result, earlier this week, states were ordered to stop issuing licenses for the manufacture or sale of drugs under brand names This move is already raising objections from domestic drug makers. The effort is designed to accelerate the sale of lower-cost generics in India.
In response, the Indian Drugs Manufacturing Association has indicated it plans on taking legal action. In a story appearing in The Economic Times, Daara Patel, secretary general of the trade group, stated “Our legal experts are studying the matter. We don’t think the government has jurisdiction over the branding of drugs.” He went on to state, “We will also be taking a presentation to the government, asking it to consult the stakeholders on such a matter.”
Under the Indian government’s move, all drug makers applying for a license [sig] to market or manufacture fixed dose combination drugs will have to submit the generic name and not the brand names. This action comes shortly after a parliamentary committee issued a report that also strongly opposed issuing licences [sig] that use brand names.
In another story appearing in The Economic Times, Dr. GN Singh, the Drug controller general of India, stated “We want to gradually move towards a future where we will not issue any brand or trade names. We are going all out to push generic drugs solely for the benefit of the public.” He went on to say “We have sent the order to all state health secretaries asking them to instruct their drug licencing [sig] issuing authority to issue licences [sig] only on generic names and not on branded or trade names, which is the usual practice now. A branded drug can be 10 times more expensive than a generic variant.”
The move has angered domestic Indian drug makers, who worry the move will significantly hurt their businesses. Vinay Pinto, managing director of Wallace Pharma told The Economic Times “Just as you cannot tell a carmaker or a chocolate maker to stop branding their products, you cannot ask pharma companies to do away with branding their products,”.
Industry analysts, however, believe that these effort may stabilize the market even if a few drug makers see a loss of some sales. Commenting, Surjit Pal of Elara Capital stated “If the government is really serious about the non-branding of drugs, then we will see the Indian market aping the US market, where there is trade off between distributors and pharma companies instead of doctors,” .
The secretary general of Indian Pharmaceutical Association noted that he interpreted the directive by the Indian government as an attempt to tackle trademark violations. He commented, "The government wants to tackle the issue of trademark disputes that comes under their purview when companies with similar sounding brand names come to them for resolution," .