The union government will obtain medicines in bulk, from both public and private drug manufacturing companies, covering some 504 essential medicines, and launch its own Jan Aushadhi brand that would sell these low-cost generic medicines
The Indian pharmaceutical market, which has a turnover in excess of Rs87,000 crore annually, is dominated by branded medicines, which our doctors prefer to prescribe. It has been found that generic medicines, as against the branded product, are definitely cheaper and effective for use by patients. But, shops selling these generic equivalents of the brands are few and far between. Indian formulations for supplies to overseas drug makers have been going on for decades and export is a money spinner for these companies in India.
Therefore, one of the most gratifying news, in recent times, is the government announcement in regard to the launch of Jan Aushadhi with effect from 1 July 2015. From the press release, it is clear that the government intends to obtain medicines in bulk, from both public and private drug manufacturing companies, covering some 504 essential medicines, and launch its own Jan Aushadhi brand to sell low cost generic medicines.
This will facilitate aam aadmi being able to buy quality medicines at cheap prices from chemists and druggists who should be specifically asked for ‘Jan Aushadhi’ brand! This introduction will initially cover Delhi through 800 selected chemists and cover essential medicines that will include antibiotics, painkillers and vitamins. Besides these, medicines used for treatment in cardiovascular, respiratory, diabetes and gastroenterology diseases will also be covered.
The Bureau of Pharma Public sector understandings of India (BPPI), the nodal agency under the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) for implementing this project, it is reported in the press, has already floated the tender seeking applications for supply of medicines for the programme. This proposal has been vetted by the Medical Council of India (MCI) and Indian Medical Association (IMA) is expected to ensure that doctors invariably prescribe Jan Aushadhi branded medications. It would soon follow that all the government hospitals may have to mandatorily prescribe Jan Aushadhi branded medicines, where available.
This is a good start in the right direction. It is imperative that simultaneous efforts are made to introduce this on a national scale and bring all the States under the scheme. It would help matters if introduction is made to all the Metros and a strict timeframe set so as to focus and bring about the Jan Aushadhi availability in all these places. May be the Ministry of Health in each State must be given the task of launching the scheme in their respective states.
All Drugs and Chemists who sell medications must also display details of the availability of Jan Aushadhi brand drugs. Not only should the retail price be shown on the package, the government must consider whether it is mandatory for the manufacturing source of the medicine should be included. If there is a senior citizen's discount applicable, this should also be shown clearly.
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)