iconimg Friday, September 04, 2015

Himani Chandna Gurtoo , Hindustan Times
New Delhi, June 18, 2013
Soon, medicines for critical cases including cancer, tumour and other life-threatening diseases may be available for a price atleast five times less than their branded versions.

To provide affordable generic drugs to all, the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) plans to launch a franchise model for its retail outlets that sell generic drugs — called Jan Aushadhi. The DoP will open 3,000 outlets across India by 2016 to sell 348 drug formulations.

The department was until now managing the outlets on its own, which limited their reach and operations. It has managed to open only 154 stores so far against the targetted 612 this year.

"These formulations will include drugs for cancer, tumour and other life threatening diseases at prices atleast 5 times lower than the branded versions," a senior official at the department said.

For example,  the salt 'Amikacin', used to cure serious bacterial infections including pneumonia, will now cost at least eight times less than the branded version. Ciprofloxacin, one of the most commonly used antibiotics, will cost atleast five times less.

The generic of meropenem, used to treat brain infections, will cost Rs. 700, while a branded alternative costs about Rs. 2,500. Similarly, cefotaxime sodium, used in cancer treatment, will cost Rs. 20 per vial, while a branded equivalent costs Rs. 87.

The department is waiting for a green signal from the Planning Commission, which must approve the DoP’s proposals.

Initially, the government will procure drugs from its own drug manufacturing companies including Hindustan Antibiotics Ltd, Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd and Bengal Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

"Secondly, we will invite tenders from small and medium enterprises (SMEs) manufacturing generic drugs," the official said.

With almost 8,000 SME manufacturers, India is the single-largest producer of generic medicines in the world and offers great opportunity.