KMSCL trying to streamline procurement of these medicines

A godsend for poor patients in top-level government hospitals in Kerala is facing teething troubles. The free supply of high-end medicines in the government medical college hospitals and the three general hospitals is yet to be streamlined.

Kerala Medical Services Corporation Ltd. (KMSCL), mandated to procure drugs for government health-care institutions, is unable to meet the demand for the products on the rational drug list, which comprises products that are high-end in potency and cost.

The list is exclusive to the State unlike the one of essential medicines, which is common to the country.

So far, the patients in these hospitals had to get those medicines from private outlets. But now the hospitals have to supply them following a government decision.

In keeping with the policy shift, a list of 327 drugs was first drawn up. Since 13 of them are already on the essential drug and the cancer drug lists, 314 drugs are provided in the generic form. But the supply has been limited. The essential drugs, however, are being supplied without much problem since November 1.

Biju Prabhakar, Managing Director of the corporation, told The Hindu here recently that the lack of a database on the quantity of medicines required had been a major reason for the shortage.

He said the hospitals would have to specify the quantity of medicines they required so that the corporation could source and supply them. The indent that the hospitals had given contained very few drugs.

He said the supply would be stabilised only through a trial-and-error method, taking six months or so. The drugs that the patients used to get from outside the hospitals had not been documented. All departments in government hospitals had been prescribing these medicines.

Even without the data on the requirement for these drugs, they have been in high demand as seen from the brisk exhaustion of stocks.

Mr. Prabhakar said 57 of the 107 listed anti-cancer drugs were available in sufficient quantity. They were procured from companies approved by the Regional Cancer Centre, Thiruvananthapuram. More of the drugs on the anti-cancer list would be made available soon.

However, since 30 of these drugs came cheaper when the cancer centre procured them, the corporation was of the view that it was better for that hospital to do so on behalf of the corporation.

He said there was a need for more clarity on the specifications of 30 drugs. Clarifications had been sought on that count. Of the rest 284, 178 drugs were available in ample quantities, while the stocks of 106 would be replenished soon.

Procuring huge quantities — for instance, 13 crore tablets of paracetamol and other commonly used drugs or 8.5 crore syringes — was an activity that took time.