Centre paying 400% more for essential drugs than states
In a shocking revelation, it has come to notice that the central government is procuring essential medicines for its different healthcare schemes at above 400 per cent higher rate than the states.
According to the latest report of Niti Aayog, the Centre has acquired essential drugs for its Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) and Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) by paying 300 per cent to 500 per cent more for the same drug which has been procured by the states of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
The lacuna in Centre's procurement policy was unearthed after Niti Aayog examined procurement prices of 14 essential drugs mainly used for treating blood pressure, diabetes, fever, stomach infection, vitamin supplement, etc.
Given that the Centre and state procure essential drugs of the same salt formulations and registered vendors, purchasing of same medicine at exorbitant rates has put government's procurement policy under the scanner.
All the scrutinised drugs are in the essential drug list of the Centre and among the states, Tamil Nadu has set a good example by obtaining the drugs at lowest rate from other states.
Cefoperazone Sodium injection, which is an anti-biotic and prescribed for respiratory tract infection, has been bought by Tamil Nadu at just Rs 13.45 per unit, while the Centre has secured the same drug under its ECHS at Rs 63.40 for a unit and under the CGHS, the medicine has been purchased at Rs 48.96 per unit, which is 471 per cent higher than the state's rate.
Similarly, Rajasthan has procured diclofenac tablet, which is used for reducing pain and inflammation, at Rs 1.16 per unit and the same drug has been procured by the Centre's ECHS at Rs 3.7 per unit and CGHS at Rs 3.87 per unit, which is 280 per cent more than the state price.
Also, paracetamol syrup125 mg/5ml (used for treating fever) has been procured by Rajasthan at Rs 4.62 per unit, which has been bought by the Centre at Rs 10.95 per unit.
Other drugs bought at higher rates include oral rehydration powder (ORS), doxycycline cap 100 mg, amlodipine besylate 5mg tablet (used to treat used to treat hypertension and angina), Metformin 400 mg tab (used to control blood sugar level), etc.
Experts have blamed the tendering process of the Centre for paying hefty amounts to buy the drugs meant for public healthcare.
Commenting on the procurement procedures in Tamil Nadu, state's Principal Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said, "The state has a robust procurement policy in place. All essential drugs are procured by Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation Ltd, which follows a very transparent method to procure essential medicines."
"We have also written to other states to adopt the Tamil Nadu's drug procurement model as it can prove to be the best model in ensuring availability of all essential drugs and medicines in the public healthcare institutions at affordable rates," he added.