Essential Drugs List Gets Updated With New Diabetes And Anti-Cancer Drugs

Essential Drugs List Gets Updated With New Diabetes and Anti-Cancer Drugs

by Dr Jayashree on Sep 15 2022 4:34 PM
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  • The Updated National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2022 is released after seven years
  • It enlists 34 new medicines including major anticancer drugs and dropped 26 old medicines
  • This limited list will improve the quality of healthcare, and provide better management of medicines
The Union Health Ministry on 13th September 2022 launched the new National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM), expanding the list to include newer drugs for diabetes, and incorporating four major anti-cancer drugs.
The NLEM was first formulated in 1996 and was revised in 2003, 2011, and 2015. After a gap of seven years, the newly updated list was released. It has deleted 26 drugs from the previous one and added 34 drugs, increasing the list to 384 drugs (1 Trusted Source
Central Drugs Standard Control Organization

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What is National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM)?

The National List of Essential Medicine (NLEM) is formulated to rationalize the use of limited resources for drugs needed the most by the greatest number of people. Prices of medicines included in this list are controlled by the Union Government, ensuring lower prices.

It is a dynamic list that takes into account any changing profile of diseases, newer drugs available on the market, and changing treatment protocols. Many of these medicines are also available free at government health facilities.

The above-mentioned factors influence the decision to include a drug in the NLEM. Every medicine may be necessary or even critical for specific disease conditions for which it is indicated.

But in the context of NLEM, a medicine may be essential considering the population at large and should fit into the definition mentioned earlier. A drug is removed from NLEM if another medicine performs better in terms of these above-mentioned factors.


What are Included in National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2022?

A total of 384 medicines are featured in the NLEM 2022 from 376 medicines in 2015, under 27 therapeutic categories. Drafting this list was a lengthy process that included inputs from more than 350 experts from across the country with more than 140 consultation meetings.
  • Most drugs in the NLEM 2022 areAntibiotics such as meropenem and cefuroxime; antiviral drugs such as dolutegravir and daclatasvir; tuberculosis (TB) drug (delamanid); hormonal medicines; contraceptives; anesthetics; and newer anti-diabetic drugs like insulin glargine and teneligliptin are included (2 Trusted Source
    Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

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  • Four major anti-cancer drugs such as bendamustine hydrochloride, irinotecan HCI trihydrate, lenalidomide, and leuprolide acetate which are effective in various types of cancers have also been added to the list. Nicotine and two opioid replacement therapy were also added to increase retention of patients in the program and higher quit rates. The rotavirus vaccine, currently under the part of the government’s universal immunization program, has also been added (2 Trusted Source
    Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

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    ). At the same time, some common gastrointestinal medicines like ranitidine were removed from the list, along with disinfectants like bleaching powder.


Importance of Essential Drug List

Medicines that are present in the NLEM 2022 list are called scheduled drugs, which are available at cheaper prices in the market. The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) fixes the prices of these drugs based on the wholesale price index inflation. For other drugs, companies are allowed to take a maximum hike of up to 10 percent annually.

Typically, once the list is released, the Department of Pharmaceuticals under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers adds them to the Drug Price Control Order, after which NPPA fixes the price. However, this year a standing committee was put in place to ensure some essential medicines are adequately available at lower prices.

This is important because the recently released National Health Accounts Estimates 2018-19 point to a high burden on households to pay for healthcare, which is a key reason pushing Indians into poverty.

Hence, NLEM plays an important role in ensuring the accessibility of affordable quality medicines at all levels of healthcare. This will give a boost to cost-effective, quality medicines and contribute to a reduction in healthcare expenditure for the citizens (3 Trusted Source
Essential Medicines

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  1. Central Drugs Standard Control Organization - (
  2. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare - (
  3. Essential Medicines - (