The Medical Council of India (MCI) has approved a draft notification which makes it mandatory for doctors to write the prescription in capital letters to avoid illegibility amid complaints that chemists sometimes give wrong medicines because of similar sounding names of drugs.

The draft notification will come into effect after its approval by the Health Ministry, official sources said. They said the Health Ministry is inclined to implement the idea.

Once the decision is taken, directions will be issued to doctors nationwide to follow the new rule. The legibility of doctors' prescription has been a matter of debate for long but in the last few years demands for addressing this issue have gathered momentum.

Some of the similar sounding medicines include – Celin (vitamin C) and Celib (celecoxib, for arthritis), Malaquin (chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug) and Mahaquin (lomefloxacin, an antibiotic) and Azoo (azithromycin, an antibiotic) and Azox (alprazolam, an anti-anxiety drug).

"We have been confronted with this problem for years.... The idea is good and we will have to look at all aspects," an official source said. However, the sources said that doctors are not comfortable with this idea.

"Doctors, mostly in the public sector, believe that they are already overburdened with patient care and a diktat that they write prescriptions only in capital letters will cause a waste of time and potential trouble with regulators if they inadvertently use small letters," a source added.

A sense of urgency has been injected by the rising number of complaints from patients as well industry about the illegibility of prescriptions and how patients at times end up consuming wrong medicines which could have harmful impact on them as well.

(Agencies)

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