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Jan Aushadhi stores to be relaunched with drugs for lifestyle diseases from June

Shardul Nautiyal, Mumbai
Thursday, May 14, 2015, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

In an initiative to make generic drugs available at affordable prices to the common man, the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) is planning to make generic drugs available under the new Jan Aushadhi stores likely to be relaunched in six states on a pilot basis across the country from June onwards. These drugs would range from antibiotics, anti-cardiac, anti-diabetic, anti-infective and gastro-intestinal drugs in six therapeutic segments.

The scheme, first launched in 2008, was meant to make medicines affordable to all. Though noble, the scheme did not really take off well with only 98 stores out of the 178 functional now. The plan now is to open around 5,000 low-cost medical stores across the country in a phased manner.

The DoP, the nodal agency for implementation of the scheme, recently held meetings with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Medical Council of India (MCI) to boost generic drugs which are affordable and efficacious.

The pilot scheme will be launched in a new format from June 21. It will be extended to the rest of the country in three years, covering all therapeutic areas. In one year, the Jan Aushadhi stores are expected to be opened in all medical colleges and district hospitals in the country.

"We are now looking to relaunch the scheme at the district and block levels. We can then have at least 5,000 stores selling at least 491 essential medicines,” according to an official associated with the development.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Chemicals and Fertilisers, however, concluded that the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) does not contain all medicines it should. All medicines, including life-saving drugs, should be made available in the market at an affordable cost, it feels.

The committee, therefore, recommended that the scope of price control needs to be enlarged to make all drugs available, especially life-saving ones, in all parts of the country, and the government should expedite the process of notifying the ceiling prices of the remaining medicines. Branded drugs are usually sold at 4-16 times of  the manufacturing costs. Besides, drugs meant for normal market would attract taxes. In Jan Aushadhi, medicines can be procured and sold at the same prices at which they are produced.

 

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