The Department of Pharmaceuticals has asked All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to examine the efficacy of unbranded generic medicines sold in the country in comparison to their branded versions. The government decided to launch a study after it found that the cost of branded medicines are abnormally high compared to their un-branded counterparts.

"AIIMS will randomly collect samples from across the country and conduct a scientific study. The study is expected to take six months and the report will be submitted to the department," an official in the government said on condition of anonymity. Generic drugs and branded drugs contain same chemical substances.

While an unbranded generic drug is sold without a brand name, the same chemical compound with a brand name commands a premium in the market. As medicines are sold in the country on doctors' prescriptions, it is apprehended that drug companies would push for their costly medicines in the name of brands. The purpose of the study is to help in monitoring retail prices of branded medicines to save consumers, he said.

In developed countries, generics are those drugs which do not have patent protection and the inventor's rivals are free to copy them. In India, very few drugs are patent-protected and almost all drugs are 'generic' as per international parlance. However, Indian companies big as well as small–have been selling these 'generic' or off-patent drugs under their own brand.