M3 Features

Bengal's model fair price medicine shops

March 5, 2014

With the prescription and bill in hand, Joyshankar Das looked a trifle nervous. He had queued up for his neuralgic mother’s medicines. Out of the seven prescribed, he did not get two, but got a hefty discount of over 67 per cent on medicines.

The scene is a fair-price drug store at a government hospital n Kolkata.

The West Bengal Government’s initiative in PPP mode has helped millions to save on the medicine budget. For cardiac and orthopaedic implants, the issues of availability do not occur as the stocking list of fair price shops include best in the trade brands or products.

Serving the people

The State government in the past 14 months has rolled out a network of 63 fair price shops in the State hospitals, including some primary health centres, which are generally covered by free medicine or implants.

Private players, including some drug retail chains, joined the programme through open bidding process that contractually ensured the level of discounts.

In the first phase (December 2012 to August 2013), the pre-determined commitment on discounts on MRP varied between 48 and 67.25 per cent. In the second phase, the range got better – between 55 and 72.5 per cent.

According to official statistics, since January 2013 till January this year, more than 47.5 lakh patients could cut down on costs of medicines, consumables and implants by Rs 117 crore.

Amazing success story

The outlets’ sale and pre-set quality of inventory are tracked and a State-level monitoring committee and panels at hospitals keep an eye on the programme’s progress day-to-day.

According to Malay De, Principal Secretary, State Health and Family Welfare Department, the target is to set up 121 such outlets by the end of this year.

The government has planned to bring in diagnostic centres also into the discounted scheme through private players. “As a pilot project, four such centres are being set up in Government hospital Kolkata and Howrah,” said the official.

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