Centre plans 3,000 'Jan Aushadhi' stores to sell drugs
Owners of these low-cost pharmaceutical shops would get a margin of 16 per cent from medicine sales. There will be an additional government incentive, at the rate of 10 per cent of the sales volume. For instance, if a shop is able to sell medicines worth one lakh, it would get an incentive of Rs 10,000.
The medicines would be procured by the Department of Pharmaceuticals from public sector units and private firms. Subsequently, the drugs would be handed over to these stores for retail sale under the Jan Aushadhi (medicine for people) scheme, launched in 2008.
Though the scheme is six years old, the response so far is lukewarm because of poor supply chain management and availability of only a small basket of medicines. The central government now plans to infuse Rs 150 crores and overhaul the scheme to make it more people-friendly.
“The scheme would be formally launched when the supply chain management software is ready and the Central Warehousing Corporation provides space to store the medicines. This will take a couple of months,” a pharmaceutical department official told Deccan Herald. Non-governmental organisation and charitable trusts are now encouraged to open up these stores on their premises. One of the proposals has come from a Farrukhabad trust named after Zakir Hussain, which is being run by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.
When the Jan Aushadhi programme began in 2008, only 128 medicines were made available in these stores. It was mandatory to procure drugs from government units. Even though 157 stores were opened, only about 100 have managed to survive.
Both obstacles have now been done away with in the revamped scheme that recently received approval from the Planning Commission.
“The number of Jan Aushadhi stores are too few to make any significant impact compared to seven lakh retail pharmacy shops. The inventory needs to be expanded,” commented S Srinivasan from Low Cost Standard Therapeutics, a non-profit organisation that fights for affordable medicines.
The department has floated a tender for procuring 360 medicines and received responses from 50 companies. As the tender is open till November 6, more responses are expected. “We will buy both from the PSUs and private companies,” said the official.
As these stores were meant for providing high-quality generic medicines at low cost, the best place for them is to integrate with hospitals or health care centres, he said.