New Delhi : The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has initiated efforts to track the availability of essential drugs across the country, by creating a national level digital platform in which the stock positions could be updated by the stakeholders. It may be noted that the regulated markets such as US have its drug regulator updating the details of medicines which are in shortage, on a regular basis.

The Authority has floated an Expression of Interest (EoI) to short list an agency for tracking the availability of specified medicines in the supply chain across the country, especially in the backdrop of the challenges it faced in tracking the availability of Covid-19 related medicines in various parts of the country.

NPPA said that one of the major roles of NPPA is to monitor the availability of drugs, identify shortages, if any, and to take remedial steps. NPPA faced constraints in tracking the stocks of drugs in the supply chain during Covid pandemic.

“The problem is two-fold – on tracking ‘where’ and ‘how much’ quantities of the drugs are available in the supply chain. Accordingly, a system is being envisaged to ‘create capability’ for tracking the availability of particular drugs in the supply chain as and when required,” said the Authority.

The objective of the project is to track the availability of stock of medicines in the supply chain (manufacturers, CnF agents, distributors, selected retailers etc.) up to district level across the country.

The short listed agency has to collect production/sales/stock data of selected drugs from the manufacturers, CnF agents, distributors, selected retailers etc.), whenever required by NPPA; to analyse the data and provide reports to the Authority; and to develop and operate National Pharma Dashboard, which would be open standards based Digital Platform and would expose Open Application Programming Interface (APIs).

The Platform should enable ecosystem partners (including but not limited to manufacturers, distributors, retailers etc.) to publish, as per need or mandate on declared frequency, the stock position at active locations using API. This would lead to a dashboard that can give a national level representation of the availability of essential medicines.

The agency must cover all manufactures and distributors of the specified drug, cover all districts should be covered with a minimum of five major retailers per district, enter into MoU or other agreements with the manufacturers and distributors for data collection, and the agency should conduct most of the data analysis through a predefined algorithm with minimum human intervention. The data collected would be the sole property of NPPA and will not be shared with anyone without the permission of NPPA. The data should be updated on a daily basis, it added. The agency also needs to prepare data standards as it needs to expose open API, said the tender document.

Following initiation of EoI bids, NPPA would conduct technical discussions and presentations with short-listed agencies and in the second stage, shall issue RFP to the shortlisted agencies and invite bids from all those bidders whose bids at the first stage were not rejected, to present final bid with bid prices in response to a revised set of terms and contains of the procurement, it added.

The agency must have a minimum average annual turnover of Rs. 2 crore during the last three fiscal years, from 2018-19 to 2020-21, and the entity should not have incurred losses in the last three years. It must have experience of market data collection and analysis in pharmaceutical sector.

The bids could be submitted between April 12 and May 2, 2022 and the bids will be opened on May 4, 2022 at the NPPA Office in New Delhi.