The Union Minister for Pharmaceuticals, HN Ananth Kumar, said the industry is in need for major reforms as it is very fragmented right now.

Centre drafting new pharma policy in bid to implement NaMo Care effectively
Health Pharma Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 22:06

Union Minister for Pharmaceuticals HN Ananth Kumar said on Thursday that the Union Government is in the process of drafting a new pharma policy so as to make changes that are necessary for the implementation of the NaMo Care scheme.

The scheme proposes universal health coverage and was announced in the 2018 Union Budget. Under this, families living below poverty line would get up to Rs 5 lakh annually for secondary and tertiary care.

The minister pointed out that Namo Care cannot be effectively implemented in the currently fragmented ecosystem of the pharma industry. He said the government intends to come up with a new policy, which will unify and synergize its various components, such as Drug Price Control Order (DPCO), manufacturing, RandD, financing, quality control, drug control, price control and medical devices.

The minister also said that there would be major changes in the drug control pricing order (DPCO).

"We will have major reforms in DPCO. Otherwise, I do not see how we can implement Namo Care in such huge proportions" Ananth said.

He added that the country needed a new ministry of pharma and medical devices as various parts of the industry currently were under the ambit of different ministries, leading to fragmentation and a lack of unity. “Considering the demand of the industry, we are also going to undertake major reforms in the DPCO,” he stressed.

Include Middle Class

The Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) is proposing to the Union Government a plan in which even the middle class is included under the universal health coverage. This comes after the Union government announced its flagship programme, the NaMo health care plan, as a step towards offering universal health coverage.

FICCI representatives, speaking at the India Pharma 2018 conference, said that they are drafting a proposal for the inclusion of the middle-class families as well. This, he said, could either be a new scheme or be integrated with lower benefits into the NaMo care scheme.

Annaswamy Vaidheesh, vice president, south India, and Managing Director, India, GSK said that representatives of the pharma industry and FICCI are writing to the Union Government seeking the same.

“Middle-class families have a certain aspiration. When it comes to healthcare, even they come under a lot of pressure. There are financial concerns,” he said.

He added that the proposal is set to reach 300 million families. “At least the lower middle class had to be covered. This could be done in association with insurance companies. We are not seeking the same amount of subsidy that is given to the poor families. The government can at least foot a part of it,” he added.

He said that according to the proposal, the Centre should foot at least 50% of the premium, while the families would have to pay the rest.

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