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Aamir appears before Parliamentary panel

New Delhi: Actor Aamir Khan today appeared before a Parliamentary panel examining FDI in pharmaceuticals sector and pitched for generic medicines, saying companies will continue to make profit if they sell cheap drugs to the poor.

The 47-year-old actor, who recently highlighted the issue of malpractices prevalent among doctors and sale of medicines in his TV show "Satyamev Jayate", was invited to appear as a witness before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce which is examining the issue of FDI in pharma sector.

He submitted a report on FDI in the sector and his support for generic drugs before the panel but refused to divulge much citing confidentiality. A member said after the meeting that the actor supported generic medicines and suggested regulating FDI in pharma sector to protect the interests of smaller companies.

Replying to a volley of questions from reporters on his support for generic medicines, Khan said certain "interested parties" have questioned the quality and "power" of such drugs which was not true. "The regulatory body checks every drug before it is sold. Be it patented or non patented, branded or unbranded," he said.

To a poser on some doctors and experts questioning his authority to comment on the issue, he said his stand was the result of a "thorough research" on the subject. "Main motive of big companies is to earn more. We understand that. The issue here is how the poor get cheap medicine…they will benefit if they sell cheap drugs. Bulk sales will lower the profit margins but profit will remain. It is win-win situation for all," Khan said.

Khan said other states should follow the example of Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu which are distributing free generic medicines to the poor after buying them at comparatively lower rates from companies. Committee chairman Shanta Kumar rejected suggestions that the actor`s appearance was more of a `publicity stunt` and said anyone with an interest in the subject was free to depose before Parliamentary panels.

He said in a country where 70 crore people live at Rs 20 a day, a Re one medicine should not be allowed to be sold at Rs 20. Referring to the larger issue of FDI, Kumar claimed that when the panel was examining FDI in retail, it came to the notice of the committee that Walmart had spent Rs 60 crore for lobbying to open up Indian markets for FDI in retail.

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