23 April 2020
By Snehlata Shrivastav
Normally, patients never got even the most commonly prescribed medicines at the 11 Central Government Health Services (CGHS) dispensaries on time. They had to waste a lot of time and energy in repeated visits to the dispensaries to collect the medicines.
Since February this year, common medicines are available at all CGHS dispensaries in Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore and Nagpur all the time thanks to a new initiative.
Earlier, CGHS dispensaries would buy medicines from local chemists, who would give a concession of only 8% on the Maximum Retail Price (MRP). Now, under the project, the Central government has decided to procure at least the most commonly prescribed medicines directly from the manufacturing companies.
“They give us these medicines at 20% concession at MRP. This saves CGHS money and the medicines are available to the patients on the same day as they are prescribed. Patients no longer have to visit the dispensaries multiple times due to nonavailability of these stocks,”said Dr Pounikar. Interestingly, until a year ago, CGHS dispensaries in city rarely had sufficient stock of basic medicines.
The local chemists who sold the medicines were usually not paid their bills for years together. Sources say bills worth crores were always unpaid, which forced chemists to stop supply.
But the new system has changed things for the better. Additional director of CGHS Nagpur office Dr GN Pounikar told TOI that this has been made possible because of the pilot project being implemented in six cities across the country on an experimental basis for a year. “If the project succeeds it will be replicated in all other cities.
The project is not just benefiting the patients but has also reduced the financial burden on the CGHS many times,” he said. The project will benefit about 1.5 lakh beneficiaries (30,000 card holders) in city alone, who get medicines free of cost from the eleven dispensaries.