THE STATE Government has allocated Rs 30 crore for the purchase of anti-rabies vaccine (ARV) but ironically, government hospitals are facing acute shortage of ARV.
Those bitten by rabid dogs have no option but to purchase costly vaccines from the open market.
The tug of war between the health department and three pharmaceutical companies over the rate of the vaccine has put the purchase of the life saving vaccine on hold.
While the Central Medical Store Department (CMSD) plans to purchase ARV at the rate of Rs 217 per vaccine, the companies have quoted the price at Rs 280 per vaccine.
A health department officer said the pharmaceutical companies were supplying ARV to hospitals run by Employees State Insurance (ESI) at the rate of Rs 217 but they had quoted a higher price for the supply of the same vaccine to the State health department. “How can there be dual price for the same vaccine”, asked the health department officer. “If we move ahead with the purchase, then the audit department will definitely raise an objection over the purchase process”, he feared.
In the meeting of the Central Purchase Committee, health department officials passed a motion to purchase the vaccine at ESI rate.
But all the three companies were united on the price and refused to oblige the health department. While the stand-off between the health department and pharmaceutical companies over the purchase of ARV continues, the poor patients who can not afford to buy the vaccine from the market are forced to suffer. Chief medical officers of various districts have already sounded an alert as the stocks of the vaccine are fast depleting. ARV is not available in the stores of several government hospitals. This year, the health department has planned to purchase intradermal vaccine.
Not only is it an advance version of the intramuscular vaccine being given in hospitals but it has also brought down the per head expenditure on vaccination. While per head expenditure on the intra- muscular vaccine is Rs 1500, for intradermal vaccine it will be merely Rs 250 per head.
Instead of muscles, the new vaccine is injected into the layers of the skin.
The Drug Controller of India has directed the State health department to train doctors, nurses and pharmacists before launching the new vaccine.