To provide cheaper medicinal drugs to the poor, the government will soon open 626 Jan Aushadhi outlets in state-run hospitals in all district headquarters of the country.

“The outlets will provide generic drugs to poor patients at over half the price of branded drugs. But the opening of the outlets depends on state governments’ cooperation in allotting space in government hospitals for these outlets,” Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Srikant Kumar Jena told the Lok Sabha.

At present there were 39 Jan Aushadi outlets, with Punjab leading with 20 followed by Rajasthan with eight, Haryana four, Delhi three, Uttaranchal two and Chandigarh and Andhra Pradesh one each, Mr. Jena said during question hour.

He said Punjab had already instructed government doctors to prescribe medicines provided by these outlets to patients.

Though basic generic medicines were being sold by the outlets at present, the Minister said expensive cancer curing medicines were not available at these stores.

“We are in discussions with certain manufacturers of medicines for cancer and if these companies are ready to supply the drugs at concessional rates, we will try and make them available at these stores soon,” he said.

To a query, Jena said he had already written two letters to Uttar Pradesh government requesting it to provide space for setting up these stores, but there had been no response.

Similar proposals were also made to Assam and Orissa, he added.