Over 200 cancer drugs, 186 medicines to treat cardiovascular diseases and 148 stents and cardiac implants will now be available at central government hospitals at prices 50-60% lower than the open market.
The health ministry has launched a programme called AMRIT (Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment), under which the government will run pharmacy retail stores to sell medicines in hospitals like AIIMS, Safdarjung and Ram Manohar Lohia.
TOI was the first to report on September 19 that the health ministry was working on a project to make cancer medicines and stents available at substantial discounts by procuring them in bulk. The health ministry’s AMRIT (Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment) programme seeks to make treatment of critical diseases more affordable by bringing down the cost of medicine, which constitute a major part of the total health expenditure, mainly in case of tertiary care.
“This is certainly an innovative initiative. Patients can buy medicines and implants at rates 50-60% cheaper than open market from AMRIT outlet in AIIMS,” health minister J P Nadda said while inaugurating the first store. “The government is pinning a lot of hope on it. We are exploring the possibility of scaling up the facility and also making it accessible to larger number of people in various parts of the country,” he added.
Since the incidence of cancer and heart diseases is high and rapidly increasing in India, the government has chosen these two therapeutic categories for initial focus of the pragramme, an official said. In India, deaths from cancer have increased by 60% since 1990, according to the latest report `Global Burden of Cancer-2013′, released worldwide on Friday. In 2013, there were 14.9 million new cancer cases registered worldwide, whereas 8.2 million people died due to the disease. Cardiovascular diseases are found to be the leading cause of death globally .