Health Ministry To Speedily Implement Free Drug Programme

In order to fast track implementation of free generic drug distribution programme, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has called for streamlining logistics, including procurement and distribution systems.

The Health Ministry will devise all logistical details pertaining to procurement and distribution of free generic medicines in all government-run health institutions.

Vardhan will also call a meeting of the health ministers of state under the framework of the Central Council of Health. This was decided during a meeting headed by the minister to review the implementation status of the National Health Mission (NHM).

The Cabinet had cleared the free drug distribution programme in May last year. However, the execution of the programme has been limited to a few hospitals due to lack of infrastructure for procurement and distribution.

The Planning Commission had estimated that the programme would cost Rs 28,560 crore during the 12th plan period (2012-2017) and had made its first financial allocation during FY2012-13. The Centre would bear 75% of the cost and the state governments will contribute the rest.

Under the programme, 348 drugs under the National List of Essential Medicines are to be provided free of cost.
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