Jubilee Insurance has renewed the push for a policy change to make generic drugs the first option for patients.
The firm’s chairman, Nazir Juma, said original products have alarmingly inflated the costs of treatment in Kenya.
He said the constant prescription of the branded drugs by doctors was an avenue for profiteering and urged for the introduction of a recommended price for medicines to prevent additional charges.
“In the US, 83 per cent of drugs sold are generic while in Kenya 70 per cent are branded ones, yet the Americans are 100 times richer than us. We need regularisation,” Mr Juma told The Standard yesterday.
“In all these advanced countries there is no such thing as branded drugs, only generics.”
He said there should be a law that prohibits doctors from prescribing branded drugs, and encouraged them to instead give generic versions, which can be 20 per cent lower.
“There should also be a recommended price on every medicine that is sold. Other countries have the same price for a particular medicine, but here it is sold at different prices,” said Juma.
A branded or original drug refers to one developed by a pharmaceutical company through a research process and is patented. The makers are allowed to manufacture and distribute it exclusively for some time, enabling them to recoup development costs.
On the other hand, generic drugs are ‘copies’ of the branded ones and are produced when the patents expire or a government authorises its production for ‘public interest’.
Juma said Jubilee had partnered with some pharmacies that would offer generic drugs.
He is also against “commissions” that doctors get when they send a patient to a specialist.