Not content with just setting some rules and making some wishes in taking affordable essential medicines to the masses, the government is now taking its battle straight into the countryside.
With a planned new national pharmaceuticals policy to regulate the prices of vital medicines tied up in bureaucratic red tape for almost three years now, the government has decided to directly sell unbranded generic drugs by setting up one store each in 610 districts and the plan is to meet the target ahead of a 2012 deadline, government sources told Hindustan Times.
These “fair price shops” for medicines will be set up under public-private partnerships and some of these would be priced at only one tenth of alternatives available in the private market-place.
The move is aimed at blunting the oligopoly of pharmaceutical companies who keep prices of medicines like cirpofloxacin, paracetamol and numesuilide at very high rates.
“One store in each district will not make that much of an impact in the overall scenario but it is a start nevertheless,” said an official at the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers.
The stores are being set up in collaboration with state governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and charitable bodies. Some 75 firms and 60 NGOs have expressed interest in setting up the medicine stores. While the state governments would provide space in government hospital premises and bear a one-time charge towards setting up the store, the NGOs would help in running the outlets and pharmaceutical companies in the public sector will supply unbranded generic medicines at nominal profits.