Centre’s move to ensure affordable medicines

With a view to promoting affordable and effective generic drugs, the Centre has asked the States to provide space in government hospitals for their sale so that more Jan Aushadhi Stores could be opened.

In a direct market intervention strategy, the Department of Pharmaceuticals launched the Jan Aushadhi Scheme in 2008 to make available and improve access to medicines at affordable prices. However, the scheme did not do well as expected and the government now proposes to launch a major publicity campaign to make people aware of the benefits of generic medicines. There is a huge price difference between branded and generic drugs. This despite generic medicines being as good as branded products.

The Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers proposes to open 3,000 outlets during the 12th Five Year Plan period. More than 150 Jan Aushadhi Stores have already been opened. The Department of Pharma- ceuticals has now written to the State governments, asking them to provide space in government hospitals and identify operating agencies to run Jan Aushadhi Stores. To ensure uninterrupted availability of all medicines at the stores, the Centre has already directed that doctors in public facilities prescribe generic drugs.

The prices of almost all generic drugs are much lower than branded medicines, more so of life-saving drugs, antibiotics and anti-diabetic drugs. A branded pack of 10 tablets of paracetamol, sold at Rs. 9, costs only Rs. 3 at a Jan Aushadhi Store.

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