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Times Of India
08 June 2012

New Delhi: There is good news for thousands of patients who visit AIIMS OPD every day. Soon, they will get free medicines along with the consultation. The premier medical institute plans to open a retail shop on its campus under the government of India’s Jan Aushadhi Scheme. It has partnered with a private company for procurement and distribution of the medicines. Under the scheme, only generic medicines will be given free of cost to patients. Till now, AIIMS provided only lifesaving drugs to indoor patients.

"The budget proposal for starting the services has been approved ‘in principle’ by the Standing Finance Committee of the institute. We are now working on the infrastructure requirements," said Dr Y K Gupta, head of pharmacology department, who is chairing the committee of experts appointed to work out the modalities for implementing the scheme. The governing body and the institute body of the premier institute have already approved the plan.

The move is expected to promote generic drugs over branded ones, a hospital source said. A senior institute official said they are in talks with National Informatics Centre Services for implementing a special software programme for the hospital inventory. "With the help of the new software, a doctor or any authority concerned can immediately check if a medicine is available in the pharmacy. Also, if a particular medicine is not available one can look for an alternative medicine with similar chemical combination on the click of a mouse click," said Dr Gupta. He said this project is in its final stage.

Officials said that the new software will also help in internal quality checks and audits to monitor the prescribing pattern of doctors. "There are always allegations that doctors often prescribe branded medicines and antibiotics because drug companies influence them. The audit reports will help check that too,"said a senior AIIMS official.

"Generic drugs cost less than 50% the money charged by brands for the same drug. Branded Diclofenac tablets are available at the average market rate of Rs 36.70 for a pack of 10 tablets. Generic drugs for the same combination are available at about Rs 3.10, which is less than 10% of the market price of the branded category," said an activist who promotes generic drugs.

Recently, AIIMS started a 24x7 pharmacy shop which sells medicines and surgical consumables prescribed by hospital doctors at a 56% discount on MRP.

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