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Bitter pill & balm for medicos

State health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra conceded some ground but also gave a hard rap on the knuckles to doctors at a meet on Saturday.

While agreeing to modify certain provisions of the controversial Clinical Establishment Act, he warned doctors “not to prescribe unnecessary medicines to patients which have either been banned or are still under experimentation”. He also insisted that doctors be not allowed to practise in pharmacies, a provision in the Act which has been opposed by a majority of doctors.

The minister, while inaugurating the eastern zonal conference of the IMA college of general practitioners, said he had information that “unregistered and unrecognised medicines in advanced nations like the UK and the US were being rampantly prescribed by doctors in Calcutta and the districts”.

“For example, Nimusulide is a drug yet to be recognised in the UK, but randomly used here. There are hundreds of such formulations which do not do any good to human beings but are used quite regularly. You must refrain from making such prescriptions,” Mishra told the doctors assembled at the conference.

The minister said multi-national drug companies, who have failed to get their products sold abroad, were trying to push the drugs in the bigger market here. He said all doctors wanted to become “super-speciality physicians”, but were forgetting the basics of the profession. “Super-speciality is welcome, but doctors these days appear reluctant to address basic needs like handling normal delivery cases or dressing an injury,” Mishra said.

In a similar vein, IMA president Subir Ganguly urged fellow physicians to avoid prescribing costly medicines, which are “of little help”. “Physicians are responsible for the poor relations with the public,” Ganguly added, referring to the increasing criticism of doctors.

The minister also asked general practitioners to update their knowledge by attending more continuous medical education programmes and keep abreast of advances in medical sciences. He added that doctors should put utmost priority on relations with patients and abstain from commercialisation of the profession.

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