In a move to provide relief to patients undergoing treatment for critical illness like cancer, cardiac disorders and kidney diseases, life saving drugs would be made available through Government agencies.

Speaking to the media on the initiative taken up by playback singer K. J. Yesudas as the patron of Janapaksham, a voluntary organisation active on health and social issues, the Minister said that the Dhanwantri Society working under the General Hospital here provides medicines at a very low rate compared to the market price.

For example, a drug costing Rs. 2500 in the open market is available at Rs. 450. As the State cannot do anything about the maximum retail price of the drugs, which is a policy decided by the Union Government, it can source the medicines at low prices and provide it through Government outlets. The MRP of various drugs has been fixed at an unbelievable margin, making the difference between the cost price and selling price very large.

The Kerala Government Medical Services Corporation had sourced medicines for Rs. 2 crore that would other wise cost Rs. 10 crore in the open market. The Minister said that the Government would be opening an outlet of Consumerfed or Neethi Medical Store in every district in the next three months to make available the life saving drugs of the kind. She said that people can take treatment at any hospital and can buy

medicines at these stores.

The Government would soon come out with an order to doctors in Health Service and medical colleges to prescribe only generic name of drugs and no brand names, said the Minister. The list of drugs sourced by the Medical Services Corporation would be published in all hospitals with its price at the hospitals and that in the open market, she said.

Mr. Yesudas, later speaking at the public discussion on the issue organised by Janapaksham, said that it is understandable that every business has to make a profit, but to mint money at the cost of people’s lives is cruel. The profit margins should be reasonable. It is unpardonable that the drug policy allows such a loot by the pharma companies, he said.

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