KMSCL yet to finalise drugs supply order

With the season of infectious diseases just a month away, the State could be looking at a situation of acute shortage of medicines across all public sector health-care institutions, unless the State government’s drug procurement agency, Kerala Medical Services Corporation Ltd. (KMSCL), has some ace up its sleeve to ensure this year’s drug supply within a month.

However, with KMSCL yet to finalise its drugs supply order for the year, the Health Department has been calling emergency meetings to discuss the contingency measures it will need to adopt to face a shortage situation as the State has only a month’s medicine stocks left.

Store verification

“The Health Minister has been apprised of the situation and a meeting with the Chief Minister is scheduled to be held next week. A decision was taken on Tuesday to ask all District Medical Officers to make store verifications so that any excess or unused drug stocks from the districts can be pooled. They have also been asked to make local purchase of drugs for a month so that there will not be a crisis during the rainy season,” a senior health official told The Hindu.

“Though KMSCL assures us that it will manage to get supplies by May end, we anticipate a total drugs shortage in June. We have already contacted the Kerala State Drugs and Pharmaceuticals to give us the maximum drug stocks and have already directed that NoCs be given to hospitals to make local purchase of drugs should there be a shortage,” he added

The DMOs have been asked to direct government hospitals to explore all funding options available, like the hospital management society or RSBY funds or annual maintenance funds to purchase drugs and ensure that there is no drugs shortage.

Dengue cases

Health officials pointed out that dengue and leptospirosis cases have begun to trickle in early following the ample summer showers and that should the situation snowball suddenly, there will be a huge demand for drugs from hospitals, which even local purchases might not be able to meet. The direction given to DMOs is to make sure that basic drugs such as paracetamol, doxycycline, antibiotics and some essential drugs to manage diabetes and hypertension are not in short supply.

Three e-tenders

KMSCL had called for three e-tenders this year January for the entire year’s procurement of drugs and supplies to hospitals, including 569 drugs (including 73 drugs for cancer treatment) and another 202 supplies which included medical devices, blood diagnostic kits and reagents, consumables, surgical sutures, chemicals and disinfectants, x-ray films and accessories.

The tenders had to be cancelled in March first week because of various technical reasons and following allegations that many companies black-listed earlier had become bidders this time. For many items, there were only single bidders and for some 150 drugs, there were no bidders at all.

Though the entire tender process was started anew, there have been too many delays. KMSCL now says that it can finalise its 2014-15 drug supply order only next week.

KMSCL claims that despite the delays in re-tendering, there will not be a situation of drug shortage as it already has stocks to manage till May end and because it has already made arrangements for some of last year’s balance stocks to be delivered.

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