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Company for drug procurement

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P.K.Sreemathy
P.K.Sreemathy

Special Correspondent

Steps to check fleecing of patients by drug companies

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Government plans to float a company to procure drugs and equipment and streamline their distribution among Government hospitals, Health Minister P.K. Sreemathy has said.

Responding to a calling attention motion by V.S. Sunil Kumar (CPI), the Health Minister told the Assembly on Friday that the company would be formed on the lines of similar initiatives in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and a few other States. The Government decided to float the new company as part of the efforts to overhaul the drug distribution regime in the Government sector.

Fleecing of patients

Ms. Sreemathy said the Government initiated measures to check fleecing of patients by drug companies by violating provisions of the Drug Prices Control Order (DPCO).

The Government had not been able to do much in this direction so far because the DPCO covered only 77 drugs out of some 30,000 brands that were available in the market.

Several manufacturers were selling drugs at 40 per cent of the MRP and the druggists and doctors, who very often prescribed drugs unnecessarily, shared the profits.

There was also a concerted bid to create shortages in Neethi Medical Stores. The Government had held discussions with high-level officials on measures to check such practices and would clamp down on those who fleeced the poor using the loopholes in the laws and the system, she said. Responding to another calling attention motion, moved by K. Sivadasan Nair (Congress), Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran said the Government had earmarked Rs.360 crore for waiver of interest on loans taken by debt-ridden farmers in Idukki, Wayanad and Palakkad districts.

Details regarding the amount that was actually waived had been sought from the Reserve Bank of India and NABARD.

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