Modi's Jan Aushadhi to offer 700 drugs at cheaper rates
The government aims to open nearly 3,000 stores by December 2016 to drive the Jan Aushadhi scheme
New Delhi: Narendra Modi's ambitious project Jan Aushadhi, which was rolled out recently in 108 stores, will extend the number of cheaper drugs to 700 from the present 450 for sale to the poor.
Moreover, the scheme, which faced initial hiccups, has finally geared up as the government aims to open nearly 3,000 stores by December 2016, sources told Bloomberg TV India.
"Jan Aushadhi will include 700 drugs instead of 450 drugs including treatments like Cardiac, Cancer and Diabetes. These drugs will be offered at almost 90 per cent lower price compared to their branded price," an official said.
The Jan Aushadhi drugs, which are called the generic drugs will meet World Health Organisation mandated good manufacturing practices (GMP) standards for the first time assuring quality drugs to poor, said Navin Jain, Advisory member of Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI).
Governments aims to open 50 Jan Aushadhi stores in Uttar Pradesh, 140 more in Chhattisgarh, 23 in Punjab, 6 each in Madhya Pradesh and Delhi, 20 in Gujarat and 5 in Jammu & Kashmir by March end.
In the upcoming Budget, the government may sanction Rs 35 crore for Jan Aushadhi. Pharma companies like Sun Pharma, Abott, Alkem and Intas Pharma may get affected once the cheap life saving drugs hit the markets.
The government kept reviewing the scheme to include more medicines to the poor at affordable cost across India. The scheme missed the June 2015 deadline due to fragmented supply chain and lack of preparedness.
PM's Office had already worked on fine tuning the scheme twice in 2015. The earlier plan was to launch the Jan Aushadhi scheme through a network of 1,000 outlets in government hospitals. The outlets were supposed to distribute at least 549 non-branded drugs at least a fifth of the price of similar branded drugs.
Supply chain management is a major constraint for rolling out the scheme. Awareness among doctors and patients to prescribe and buy generic drugs seems another important area which is taking time at this stage.
The government earlier planned to open 1,000 stores by June 21, 2015 to launch the scheme. But unresolved issues related to supply chain management coupled with administrative delays delayed the scheme. The Bureau of Pharma PSUs, which was responsible for rolling out the scheme, had failed to meet the deadline.
In 2008, the UPA government floated the concept of Jan Aushadhi but it met with limited success and opening only 85 stores. The Modi government revived the programme this year setting a target of opening 3,000 stores as well as distribution 549 drugs instead of just 350 drugs promised by the previous government.
The Department of Pharmaceuticals now wants private companies to come in partnership with Centre and help them supply the generic drugs, which can be distributed at an affordable price. The PSUs can produce only 150 drugs and it is looking for a private company’s partnership to aid in this programme.
Although some states like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have their own free medicine state programmes, Centre aims to replicate it on a national scale through public outlets with the help of private manufacturers medicine supply.