The state government's plan to have a single body to purchase drugs for all public health facilities has not gone down well with activists.
"The remedy for corruption is not centralisation, but transparency," said Dr Anant Phadke from non-governmental organisation Jan Swasthya Abhiyan.
The organisation is submitting its views and demands to the state health department on the World Health Day on Wednesday.
Health Minister Suresh Shetty had ordered the setting up of a 12-member 'apex committee', headed by state health secretary Sarvaree Gokhale, to purchase all drugs by floating tenders from May. Currently, drugs are purchased at all levels, be it by state authorities, district health officers or heads of sub-centres, leaving ample scope for misuse of funds and purchase of sub-standard drugs.
The decision was taken after a regional newspaper reported that officials were purchasing drugs and medical equipment at rates higher than the maximum retail price.
"We are worried the new method may lead to delays and the central committee will be equally prone to corruption," said Phadke.
Shetty said the doubts were baseless. "There are independent members on the committee, including an officer from the state police, a food and drugs department officer, a member of the Maharashtra Medical Council and senior private practitioners" he said.