The government has today revised the list of essential medicines to include drugs for a series of diseases ranging from cancer and Hepatitis C to HIV/AIDS. It is the third update to the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) since 1996.
The move is primarily aimed at making the drugs more affordable to people. Now the number in the list has increased to 376 and it includes analgesics, antiviral, contraceptives, anti-TB, and cardiovascular drugs.
The revision takes cue from World Health Organization’s list of essential drugs for 2015, which are defined as those satisfying the priority health care needs of people. “The NLEM 2015 has been prepared adhering to the basic principles of efficacy, safety, cost-effectiveness; consideration of diseases as public health problems in India,” a notice on the website of Central Drug Standard Control Organization said.
It is also in accordance with the considerations by an expert committee of the Central Government. It is this committee that recommended the three-year wise revision of the list.
However, the response from the pharmaceutical industries is not known yet. “We will be seeking clarification and a better understanding of its implications,” said Ranjana Smetacek, director general of the Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI)