The government plans to set up drug banks in all 604 districts of the country to provide essential medicines to the poor free of charge and a committee has been set up to study the feasibility of the proposal.
Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers Ram Vilas Paswan Tuesday said that the committee has been formed under the guidance of G.S. Sandhu, joint secretary (chemicals and fertilizer).
"The committee will submit a report on setting up of drug banks and provision for providing free health insurance to all the poor people," Paswan told reporters after a meeting of the Pharmaceuticals Advisory Forum.
He said his ministry has already moved a policy note in the cabinet on the issue.
The health secretaries of Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Mizoram and officials from the Drug Controller's office have been nominated as members of the committee.
The committee would also assess feasibility of a district illness fund and an anti-cancer fund, the minister added.
Paswan said his ministry was planning to increase the number of scheduled drugs under the government price control from 74 to 354. "This will reduce the price of drugs in the market."
"The government is trying to reduce prices of 886 varieties of drugs but prices of only 295 drugs have been reduced so far," he said adding that so far nine companies including Ranbaxy, Alchem and Alembic had reduced the rate where as many more drug manufacturers like Cipla and Lupin were yet to follow the government order.