Finally, the state government hospitals and dispensaries will have quality medicine and equipment in enough quantity at their disposal.
After much bickering, the Cabinet, on Wednesday, approved of the health minister Suresh Shetty’s proposal to bring in transparency in medicine purchase through e-tendering.
The proposal was stuck because of a tussle between the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The medical education department, headed by NCP minister Vijaykumar Gavit, has been purchasing the medicine and equipment. Since the NCP did not want to part with their purchase rights, Shetty had to fight in every cabinet meeting that discussed the issue for the last one year.
In the existing method, medicines are not tested for potency or quality after delivery to hospitals. Distributors supply medicine and equipment directly to hospitals and manufacturers have no role to play. In the new system, the medicine will be delivered to the three warehouses at Pune, Aurangabad and Nagpur where they will be tested for quality.
“Manufactures will be blacklisted if their medicines fail our quality control tests,” said Shetty told HT.
The medicine will be generic because it is cheaper than branded ones.
A high-powered committee, comprising non-government experts and government officials, will decide on rates and purchases for the first time in the state’s history.
Shetty said the committee will be headed by the public health secretary. “Two members each from the Maharashtra Medical Council and private corporate hospitals, two renowned doctors and a senior food and drugs officer will be part of the committee.”
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan did not clarify whether the medical education department would also follow the new method. He said the new decision would ensure transparency and the state will save 20% of the cost on medical purchases. Gavit could not be contacted.
However, a senior health official said Gavit’s department would have to follow suit. “I don’t think that the medical education department will buy medicine at rates higher than the health department.”
Shetty’s department needs medicine worth Rs200 crore, while Gavit’s department needs Rs100 crore annually. “I want quality medicine to be given to the patients,” Shetty said.