India Health Progress terms free generic drug programme as critically important

Posted on July 28, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

India Health Progress, an action forum of stakeholders to improve access to healthcare, has welcomed the latest moves to launch the free generic drug programme for giving free medicines at the public health facilities in the States.

“The initiative of the Government is critically important step in meeting India’s unmet health needs. A publicly funded drug program for poor populations is essential to reducing the growing social and economic burden of disease in India for the hundreds of millions of Indians who live below the poverty line,” India Health Progress principal advisor Aman Gupta said in a statement here.

In June, the government of India announced that it is setting up a procurement and distribution system intended to provide low income populations with free unbranded generic medicines. The proposal which is a part of the 12th Plan involves Rs.20,000 crore outlay from the Centre and aboutRs.7,000 crore from the states.

“Increasingly, India’s disease burden has been shifting from communicable diseases to chronic ailments such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and other conditions that can be treated and managed by many older proven and effective low-cost generic medicines. Ensuring access to these low-cost generic medicines must therefore be an important priority for India’s universal healthcare reforms. Lately, much of the focus of India’s drug policy debate has been on the price and availability of newer innovative medicines. Lost in this debate is the fact that the ultimate legacy of pharma innovation is safe and effective low-cost generic medicines to which many diagnosed patients in India have little or no access,” Gupta said.

“Essential to the success of the free generic programme is the need to ensure that the medicines that are distributed through this programme are safe, of high quality, and efficacious. Equally important, is the need to ensure the integrity of the procurement and distribution system for this programme so that it does not suffer from many of the problems encountered by other programs, such a Jan Aushadi, which has been hampered by problems of supply and distribution,” the statement said.

“With thousands of generic drug-makers in India, Indian multinational and domestic generic drug manufacturers supply much of the world with quality low-cost generics. Focusing on improving quality standards and ensuring stringent regulatory oversight for drug manufacturing and distribution in India, millions of needy Indians can be ensured access to quality low-cost generic medicines, greatly reducing the economic and social burden of disease in India,” Gupta added.

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