The Centre’s ambitious scheme to provide unbranded generic medicines at affordable prices, has failed to take off in Madhya Pradesh due to lack of supply in the Jan Aushadhi stores across the state, say pharmacists and customers.
The Jan Aushadhi scheme started in 2008 with an aim to make quality medicine available at affordable prices for all, particularly the poor and disadvantaged through specialised outlets called Jan Aushadhi stores.
The state government runs eight fair-price Jan Aushadhi kendras or generic drug stores in Bhopal, Indore, Chinndwara, Narsinghpur, Sagar, Khandwa, and Gwalior. But none of these stores have got a complete supply of medicines since the stores were set up.
Each of these stores is required to stock at least 500 essential drugs at 35 to 40% cheaper prices than the branded medicines. A 100 mg generic tablet of Diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory drug, costs Rs 4 at a Jan Aushadhi store, but a branded tablet of the same medicine sells for Rs 60 at a regular medicine shop. A branded injection for cancer that sells for Rs 5,000 or more costs Rs 500 at a Jan Aushadhi store.
There are more than 500 generic medicines listed under the scheme but only 225 are supplied to the stores at any given time, say pharmacists.
Customers have stopped coming to the stores as supplies of generic drugs are not replenished regularly, some of them complain.
“I get calls from Telangana, Raipur, Bengaluru , Jaipur and even Gujrat, asking for generic medicines as the cost is very nominal but we ourselves don’t have adequate supplies and are barely managing to operate the store,” says Ramchandra Marvya, a pharmacist of Jan Aushadhi Kendra in Bhopal.
Even though the benefits for a consumer are huge there is a lack of awareness about the scheme, says Kapil Jain, a consumer. “I found out that a store was opened in my neighbourhood and to my surprise unbranded medicines were really cheap at the store but supplies of generic drugs were not regular,” he says.
“Generic drugs should be rationed so that people can procure essential medicines from the Jan Aushadhi stores and also minimize wastage as the central store takes back only 2% of the total stock that has expired. A lot of stock, which can reach to people is just discarded,” said Saurabh Raghuwanshi of Chinndwara Jan Aushadhi Kendra.
Dealers say that consumers are unaware of the scheme as there is no marketing done for Jan Aushadhi, but the health department claims to have spent Rs 12 crore on media campaigns and marketing.
Low-cost generic drugs
Jan Aushadhi is a government scheme to make quality drugs available at affordable prices
Launched in 2008 by the Department of Pharmaceuticals in association with Central Pharma Public Sector Undertakings
Relaunched in March, 2016 with private participation. Renamed as Prime Minister’s Jan Aushadhi Yojana
The Centre procures medicines in bulk from public as well as private drug manufacturing firms and rebrands them under ‘Jan Aushadhi’. These are sold in the retail market at a competitive price, allowing consumers to buy a cheaper yet quality product from the government.
293 Jan Aushadhi centers operating across the country.
500 generic medicines listed in the Jan Aushadhi Campaign
A 100 mg generic tablet of Diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory drug taken or applied to reduce inflammation, costs Rs 4 at a Jan Aushadhi Center but the same costs Rs 60 at a regular medicine shop.