MUMBAI : The government plans to create a common platform to handle procurement of medicines for all Central government agencies, including the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS), institutions and public sector undertakings. The objective is to reap the benefits of a bulk purchase through a common mechanism, where drugs will be of uniform quality and pricing, across the country.

Overall, Central and state governments’ drug procurement is estimated to be Rs 22,000 crore annually, or about 15% of the total pharma market.

At present, the same medication may be purchased by different government organisations and separate ministries — health and chemicals & fertilisers, at different prices. Significantly, the move could also prevent the practice of over-billing by certain pharma companies, and offer high-value critical products at a reduced price, resulting in huge savings for the government, sources told TOI.

A major part of the government procurement is used for schemes and institutions including Jan aushadhi, CGHS, AIIMS and Employees’ State Insurance Corporation. The mechanism being discussed is only for procurement by the Centre, as states have their independent system in place.

The matter has been discussed by both ministries — health & family welfare and Chemicals & Fertilisers with presentations made by entities including GeM (Government e-Market Place), sourcesadded. Among the possible entities which could be roped in include GeM and Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd. Further, for sourcing products like vitamins, basic antibiotics and paracetamol preference could be given to micro, small and medium enterprises, sources said.