Working with states on availability of generic drugs in rural areas, says health ministry

While it is helping them with financial and policy support, the union government wants the states to use their machinery to boost their respective health infrastructure

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New Delhi: While the public health has been a state subject in India, the union government has maintained that under the National Health Mission (NHM), it still provides the support to States for strengthening their healthcare system including support for provision of free generic drugs to those who access public health facilities including in rural areas. This of course is based on the requirement posed by the States/UTs in their Programme Implementation Plans.

Speaking in the Parliament on the issue, Mr J P Nadda, Union Health Minister gave details of his ministry’s role and activities.  “A number of steps have been taken by the government to promote use of generic medicines. Circulars and instructions have been issued from time to time to all Central Government hospitals, CGHS dispensaries and State Governments for encouraging prescription of generic medicines. The Code of Medical Ethics under Indian Medical Council Regulations, 2002 also mandates prescription of drugs with generic names.”

Warehouse for medicinesThe central government has launched the Jan Aushadhi Scheme to make available generic medicines at affordable prices to all through Jan Aushadhi Stores (JAS).

“While no such information is maintained at Central level, all the states have notified a policy to provide essential drugs (in generic form) in public health facilities. Public Health being a state subject, the primary responsibility of providing improved access to generic drugs lies with the State/UT governments, added the Health Minister.

Under NHM, an incentive of upto 5 percent additional funding is provided to those states that implement policy and systems to provide free essential drugs(in generic form) to all those who access public health facilities.

To facilitate States to roll out free drugs service initiative, Operational Guidelines have been prepared by the union health ministry and shared with States which provide, inter alia that all drugs procured, distributed and prescribed under this initiative shall be generic drugs.

“However, states should also undertake IEC to promote generic drugs and organize orientation workshops for doctors to promote prescription of generics drugs,” feels Mr Nadda.