SAC adopts Free Drug Policy

SAC adopts Free Drug Policy

Jammu: The current Governor Administration on Friday accorded sanction to the adoption of a Free Drugs Policy for Jammu and Kashmir, paving the way for free distribution of select drugs to patients. The adoption of the drug policy is part of the Indian government’s policy to achieve the projected “health-for-all goal”.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the State Administrative Council (SAC) held under the Chairmanship of Governor NN Vohra in Jammu. “The state commits to ensure the availability of these drugs at the respective health institutions at all times,” an official spokesman said after the SAC meeting. The policy aims at reducing high ‘Out of Pocket Expenditure’ on healthcare due to the high cost of drugs which patients seeking treatment have to bear.
The state government’s announcement of the Free Drugs Policy shall also enable it to stake a claim for funds for provisioning of drugs/medicines under the National Health Mission (NHM). The spokesman said that J&K is one of the states which have already put in place a separate central procurement mechanism in the form of the J&K Medical Supplies Corporation Limited. The Corporation has started functioning fully since 2015 and the drugs or medicines procured by this agency have already started becoming available. From the next financial year 2016-17, it shall take over the burden of making all the procurements for Health and Medical Education Department’s procurement needs. This was one of the prerequisites for rolling out of the Free Drugs Policy.
The policy initially provides for making available for all ‘In-patients’ and ‘Out patients’, as many as 23 medicines at the level of sub-centres, 53 at the level of Primary Health Centres and 68 at the level of Sub-District Hospitals, Community Health Centers and District Hospitals. This free drug list has been envisaged as an evolving list, which is subject to review by the state government depending on the availability of resources and the felt needs of various Health Institutions.
The Health Department had earlier put in place a Drug Policy in the year 2012 which was based on the National List of Essential Medicines of India, 2011. Recently, the Department notified the Jammu and Kashmir Drug Formulary, which is an exhaustive list of drugs/medicines out of which alone the procurement of drugs/medicines can be made by the J&K Medical Supplies Corporation etc. The State did not have a Drug Formulary till date and had to rely on the Formularies of other States for its procurement needs. This Formulary was notified based on the recommendations of a Committee constituted by the government in 2013 under the Chairmanship of Dr Ajit K Nagpal, the first Director of Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura and Convener, Task Force on Health Sector Reforms in J&K.
The spokesman said that the department undertook a detailed exercise while framing the Free Drug Policy which, inter-alia, contains a grievance redressal mechanism, and also underlines the need for a prescription audit and putting in place standard treatment guidelines so that the Free Drugs list can be made effectively implementable. The Free Drugs Policy is likely to be implemented in the state from 1st June 2016.