New Delhi

The Union Government has added 106 drugs including that of HIV/AIDS, Cancer and Hepatitis C to the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM). In this regard, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s core committee has revised the NLEM. The committee was headed by V.M. Katoch, former secretary of Department of Health Research.

The revision includes addition of 106 essential medicines and deletion of 70 medicines. With this total number of essential medicines in the list has gone up to 376 from earlier 348 medicines. This move will ensure their availability across the country at affordable prices. The new list takes cues from the World Health Organisation (WHO’s) 2015 list of essential drugs and medicines that satisfies the priority healthcare needs of people and ensure affordability.

The WHO Model Lists of Essential Medicines has been updated every two years since 1977. The current versions are the 19th WHO Essential Medicines List and the 5th WHO Essential Medicines List for Children updated in April 2015.

In India NLEM formed first time in 2011 and they decide the essential medicines. It is a dynamic list and is reviewed every 3 years to include or exclude drugs as relevant to the newest medical innovations and aligned to the current market competition. It should be noted that NPPA under the Union Ministry of Chemical and Fertilizer decides the ceiling prices of essential medicines under The Drug Price Control Order 2013.

Once any drug comes under NLEM, manufacturers started diverting focus on non essential medicine because they are not going to get return on investment on NLEM. For example hardly few companies are manufacturing ranitidine and the one who are manufacturing are dependent on large quantity supply. My suggestion is government should have friendly vigil on the quality, Research and development and availability of NLEM.

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