The Jan Aushadhi Scheme (JAS) initiated by the Government of India is a powerful intervention against the unjustifiable pricing of medicines by private pharmaceutical industry, to make the generic medicines available at affordable prices.
- Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) is a campaign launched by the Department of Pharmaceuticals to provide quality medicines at affordable prices to the masses.
- In September 2015, an existing ‘Jan Aushadhi Scheme’ was revamped as ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Yojana’ and in November, 2016, to give further impetus to the scheme, it was again renamed as “Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana”.
- PMBJP stores have been set up to provide generic drugs, which are available at lesser prices but are equivalent in quality and efficacy as expensive branded drugs.
- Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) is the implementing agency for PMBJP.
Objectives of PMBJP
- Making quality medicines available at affordable prices for all, particularly the poor and disadvantaged, through exclusive outlets “Jan Aushadhi Kendras”, to reduce out of pocket expenses in healthcare.
- Create awareness among the public regarding generic medicines.
- Create demand for generic medicines through medical practitioners.
- Create awareness through education and awareness programs that high price need not be synonymous with high quality.
Need for affordable healthcare
- Health is one of the central pillars of a nation’s human development index (HDI) that indicates its prosperity. Health is not only a basic necessity for an individual but also an integral ingredient of human-capital for the nation.
- Given this, every nation aims to provide good healthcare to its citizens at an affordable cost through various initiatives and schemes. PMBJP is one such noble initiative in India to facilitate affordable and accessible healthcare.
- India is the biggest democratic country and one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Despite this, the budget allocation to healthcare is less than 3 per cent. India’s population is dominated by rural domiciles and mid-income groups.
- About one-third population of our country is devoid of health insurance. The prevailing diseases and pandemic outbreaks add to the perils of the situation. Considering these vital factors, it is important to make healthcare affordable to the population.
- Patented drugs have taken over generic drugs, with the emergence of privatisation, market competition and profit hunger in the pharmaceutical industry. This resulted in burning a hole in the pockets of individuals for maintaining essential health hygiene.
- India’s out-of-pocket expenditure on healthcare is more than 60 per cent, according to Niti Aayog’s latest report. This is significantly above the average for lower-middle income countries.
- In short, India has a gruesome healthcare challenge to address. PMBJP aims for this through its increasing outreach and affordable generic drugs.
- PMBJP also serves employment opportunities to the human resources in the pharma sector. It provides financial assistance and support to the qualified personnel to open Janaushadhi Kendra and generate income.
- In addition to the direct employment opportunity, Janaushadhi Kendra generates peripheral employment in associated supply chain, transportation and maintenance sectors. PMBJP, thus, is aushadhi not only for health but also for the wealth of the nation. It is indeed a jan-upyogi.
- The increasing and ageing population
- Fear of pandemic
- Outreach of the Janaushadhi Kendra is yet to pick up
- Increasing awareness of PMBJP
- Maintaining the affordable price of the generic medicines despite increasing inflation and supply cost.
- To increase the outreach of Janaushadhi Kendra, increase in the healthcare budget for infrastructure and financial support is required. In addition, public-private partnership models for generic drugs should be mulled over to increase competitive participation of more private players and expand the outreach.
- Training and development of pharmaceutical staff will also be required in expansion of Janaushadhi Kendra.
- To spread awareness about PMBJP and Janaushadhi Kendra, collaboration with local hospitals, clinics and doctors is required. Apart from typical advertisement campaigns, this is a very effective way to build the trust of locals on the efficacy of generic drugs.
- To hedge against inflation and maintain the affordable prices of the generic drugs, supply-side intervention is required. This primarily includes research and development of drugs to bring the efficacy in generic drugs at par with that of patented drugs, at less cost.
- Efficiency in production, storage and supply chain would also help in slashing the input cost and thereby, maintain the affordable prices without compromising the stakeholders’ profit interest.
Affordable, accessible and acceptable drugs are every citizen’s right. Health is not just a choice of individuals but necessity of the nation. PMBJP is a noble initiative towards ‘healthy India’. It not only makes drugs accessible to common citizens but also generates employment. It is important to make this initiative sustainable for future India.
How to structure:
- Give a brief intro about Jan Aushadhi/ affordable healthcare
- Discuss the features of Jan Aushadhi scheme
- Examine the challenges faced in implementing them
- Suggest measures