Drug stocks dip, State stares at acute shortage

Published - August 02, 2018 12:20 am IST - Mumbai

The Maharashtra Public Health Department is now left with just three months’ stock of medicines as the Haffkine Institute, tasked with purchase of medicines for the government, lacks expertise, sources said.

Every year, the state government purchases medicines worth ₹1000 crore for which it has appointed the state-owned Haffkine to facilitate the centralised purchase of medicines to be used by the Public Health Department and Medical Education Department. Last week, the state government hospitals and medical colleges at many places faced shortage of drugs as the new supply is running short.

On Wednesday, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis chaired a review meeting of the Health Department over the issue and sources said that the lack of expertise of the Haffkine in the purchase of drugs and medical equipment process was discussed.

“The Chief Minister has directed the Haffkine Institute to hire workers on contractual basis, if needed, to speed up the tendering process of drug purchase. The Public Health Department was also directed to streamline the demand of medicines by clubbing all its requirements. The time for the tender process has also been cut short,” said an officer who attended the meeting.

Haffkine had already placed tenders worth ₹128 crore but managed to deliver medicines worth ₹60-70 crore only, the officer said.

“The Medical Education Department is running out of medicines and needs urgent intervention. Hence they have been permitted to purchase medicines locally,” said the officer, adding that the health department is likely to get around 7,000-8,000 extra staff in the upcoming mega recruitment of 72,000 government officers.

The issue of lack of medical equipment was also discussed in the meeting, but put on hold since it did not require urgent intervention. Further, a decision of allowing one time purchase of medicines worth ₹1 lakh, from the earlier ₹5,000 limit, to heads of medical colleges was also cleared. The government will also be mapping availability of medical facilities in various parts of the State.

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