Indian Pharmacists will soon allow the sale of certain medicines without the prescription, as per new over the counter (OTC) policy for drugs. The Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) has approved the new OTC policy and a draft notification will soon be issued by the health ministry.
DTAB is the highest statutory decision making body on technical matters related to drugs in the country. It is constituted as per the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. It is part of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The medicines like antifungal infections, analgesics (pain killers), cough syrups, decongestants, laxatives, antiseptics and medicines for gum infections etc. are approved in a list of OTC drugs by DTAB. Medicines for common cold and cough along with contraceptives are already available without prescription.
The senior official from DTAB told EconomicTimes that the main motive for these changes in draft policy are to reduce treatment cost and promote self-care without compromising safety.
The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and the Drugs & Cosmetics Rules, 1945 (D&C) do not define OTC medicines. India does not have a policy framework to support and regulate distribution, marketing and consumption of OTC medicines unlike developed nations such as USA, UK or China but still many medicines are already sold under OTC in India.
The list of OTC medicines has been shortlisted, based on evidence of their safety, availability, and non-habit forming nature, as per senior official.
Once the final notification comes into effect, pharmacists will be able to dispense drugs for minor conditions without prescription by physician. Also, pharmacists are studying medicine handling and patient counseling in their curriculum which will directly benefit the Indian population.