A 4th year medical student at SheffieldProfile Pic swag University (including an intercalated year in International Health at Leeds University), Harvir Braich  has been a member of Sheffield Student Stop AIDS since 2011. This is him…


Having learnt how generic medicines offer a cheaper alternative to branded medicines, I set forth to further research this in the generic capital of the world, India. Leaving England on a (typical!) rainy day and arriving in the scorching heat of New Delhi, I sought out key stakeholders with hopes of finding recommendations to ensure continuous production and supply of generic medicines.

Knowing Indian companies to be the pioneers in offering cheap generic drugs, such as offering antiretroviral medicines for 99% cheaper than branded equivalent1, I expected to see huge emphasis on their importance. However, to my surprise, those who I interviewed stated a general lack of knowledge, supply and trust in generic medicines. I was shocked that a country that produces over 80% of generic drugs for developing countries does not utilise them themselves2. In fact, 70% of Indian household expenditure on health goes towards expensive medicines3-7. How can a country classed as the generic capital of the world fail to provide generic medicines to its own people?

The inside of a big pharma company in India contrasted with the stark situation around the corner

The inside of a big pharma company in India contrasted with the stark situation of pigs rummaging through filth just round the corner

By interviewing key stakeholders, I sought to amend this. Fortunately one interviewee, the former Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, has made it his personal mission to push for generic drugs. His passion and awareness of the success of generic medicines may yet provide cheap medicines to the generic capital of the world.

“Doctors should only prescribe generic medicines. This one sentence can save millions of lives.” – Former Chief Minister

By interviewing others too, I hope to use the findings to produce achievable recommendations to ensure India gains access to the cheap life-saving drugs they have successfully provided to others. Once edited and finalised, I hope to publish this research within the next few months and will be forwarding a copy to key stakeholders in India. I hope that they will acknowledge my findings and heed my recommendations- for the sake of the Indian people.

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  1. Treatment Access: Generic drugs, FDCs and AIDS, 2012. (Online) Accessed 18/07/2015. Available from: http://www.avert.org/antiretroviral-drug-prices.htm#footnote7_ede06ql
  1. Waning B, Diedrichsen E and Moon S. A lifeline to treatment: the role of Indian generic manufacturers in supplying antiretroviral medicines to developing countries. Journal of the International AIDS society, 2010; 13: pp 35
  1. Parliament of India. One Hundred and Tenth Report on FDI in Pharmaceutical Sector. 2013. Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce. Report 110
  1. India Brand Equity Foundation. Indian Pharmaceutical Industry, 2015. (Online). Accessed 18/07/2015. Available from: http://www.ibef.org/industry/pharmaceutical-india.aspx
  1. Balance R, Pogany J, Forster H. The world’s pharmaceutical industries: an international perspective on innovation, competition and policy. 1992. United Nations Industrial Development Organization.
  1. Selvaraj S and Nabar V. Chapter 6: Access to Medicines in India: Issues, Challenges and Policy Options. In: India Health Report, 2010. Business Standard Books.
  1. Garg C and Karan A. Reducing out-of-pocket expenditures to reduce poverty: a disaggregated analysis at rural-urban and state level in India. Healthy Policy and Planning, 2008; Vol 24, pp 116-128