SRINAGAR: Two months have passed since the Jammu and Kashmir Medical Supplies Corporation (JKMSC) threatened to blacklist pharmaceutical companies and debar them from participating in tenders for five years, but rural hospitals continue to suffer shortage of vital drugs.
The JKMSC was made operational last year, with the claim that it will ensure accountability, quality, and time-bound arrival of drugs to hospitals. However, health department officials say that the corporation has failed in its task of ensuring supply of essential drugs in the state’s hospitals.
In April this year, the corporation even while denying that there was shortage of drugs in hospitals, issued a circular to drug manufacturing companies asking them to execute the supply of drugs within seven days, failing which they would be blacklisted for a period of five years.
“It has been observed that some firms/ manufacturers have failed to execute the supplies against the supply orders issued on January 1, 2017, by JKMSC within stipulated period as prescribed in purchase orders. It is enjoined upon all the firms and suppliers to execute the order within seven days from the date of issuance of this circular, (and) if failing, JKMSC will have the right to take any legal action as admissible under various clauses of NIT. The defaulting firms may face blacklisting, first for a period of five years,” the order issued by the corporation on April 18 read.
Health officials posted in various district hospitals say that the drug shortage remains the same as it was two months ago. “The last time when the corporation warned the pharmaceutical companies, we expected the arrival of all vital drugs that were running short for the past four months. But not a single drug has been supplied. Even the intra-venous fluids and surgical items continue to be missing,” said an official.
Officials in many hospitals say that they buy the required drugs and items at their own risk from the market, ignoring the directive that has asked them to purchase drugs from the corporation only.
“Since the corporation came into being the things have only worsened particularly in rural hospitals. Despite the ban on purchase of drugs by the hospitals themselves we have been purchasing badly required drugs from the market. This has incurred a huge liability to the hospital,” said an official of the health department.
Even if the corporation has procured some drugs, health officials say they are lying in its drug stores awaiting quality tests. “The corporation cannot supply drugs to hospitals unless they get them tested first. It takes them two months to get a drug tested by outside laboratories. This has further messed up things,” another official told Kashmir Reader.
General Manager JKMSC Dr Iqbal said that the late submission of requisition by the directorate of health services is causing delay in supplying the drugs. “Going by the demand of the directorate we have supplied 60 to 70 percent drugs to the hospitals. NRHM sent the requisition only in the month of May and it takes two to three months to execute the supply after the requisition is submitted,” the GM said.
He said that the directorate sent a requisition of drugs worth Rs 20 crore for all the Valley’s hospitals, which was “too little” to suffice for all the needed drugs.