The Congress-led public health department and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-led medical education department have begun tugging at the reins of the new state drug procurement policy, with each aiming to seize control.
Presently, drug procurements worth Rs300 crore take place through the Directorate of Medical Education and Research, headed by NCP minister Dr Vijaykumar Gavit. While drugs worth Rs200 crore are procured for the public health department, drugs worth Rs100 crore are procured for the medical education department.
However, Congress health minister Suresh Shetty, who heads the public health department, wants a new, “transparent” process under which drugs are procured separately for the health department.
“It is basically a tug-of-war between Congress and NCP-led departments, both of which want to gain control of the procurement policy,” said a cabinet minister.
Under the new policy, a panel headed by the additional chief secretary and civil society representatives will oversee the e-tendering process. Cabinet sources said deputy chief minister and state finance minister Ajit Pawar have argued in favour of the existing system as it follows e-tendering, allows the purchase of drugs directly from manufacturers and also allows appeals to go directly to the health department secretary.
However, the health department is skeptical considering no appeals that have been made over the past decade and that the committee fixes the drug rates.
Interestingly, Chavan had been opposing this policy.