In a bid to reduce in-pocket health expenses from 71% to 50% in next four years, the government will distribute free generic medicines through its hospitals. It also plans to take its Jan Aushadhi (people medicine) stores to every block of the country.
For the plan, the Centre will set up a national body — Central Procurement Agency — to specify uniform standards for procurement of generic medicines and help states procure the medicines at cheapest possible rates.
“Transparent systems should be built to ensure that all procurements adhere to the highest standards,” said plan panel deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia.Tamil Nadu has shown the way by ensuring free medicines to all in-house patients in government hospitals. The Tamil Nadu Medicines Supply Corporation procures generic medicines in bulk up to 1/20th of the market price and supplies them to the government hospitals.
Ahluwalia said the Tamil Nadu model should be replicated in other states for managing procurement and logistics for “free medicines for all” programme for which the Central government was willing to provide financial assistance.
The model is demand based, instead of traditional supply driven and needs adequate preparatory work.
The Centre will provide money for the same through to be launched National Health Mission, subsuming the existing National Rural Health Mission.
The Central Procurement Agency at the Centre and similar ones at the state governments will also supply “rational drugs” to Jan Aushadhi stores to be opened in each of 6,000 blocks in the country to provide medicines at reasonable price.
As of now, there are only a few hundred stories running in a few states such as Punjab, Orissa and Himachal.
With the plan panel suggesting the stores to be transferred to health ministry from department of pharmaceuticals, the government believes that the expansion will be feasible in next three to four years.