New Delhi: Outlets under the government’s flagship affordable drugs scheme, Pradhan Mantri Bharatiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP), will soon start selling ayurvedic products like amla, triphala, ashwagandha and chyawanprash too, ThePrint has learnt.
This would signify a major change in policy, as the jan aushadhi scheme — originally launched by the UPA government and then relaunched by Narendra Modi’s NDA government as PMBJP — only sold generic allopathic medicines.
There are currently 5,500 pharmacy outlets across the country under PMBJP, and the government has selected 20 ayurvedic products to be sold in these outlets.
Discussions on the matter had started last year, but now, the plan has now received a go-ahead from the Department of Pharmaceuticals under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, which oversees PMBJP.
“We will start rolling out the tenders to procure the list of drugs shared by the Ministry of AYUSH. The eligibility of manufacturers is based on WHO-GMP certified companies along with central or state-run ayurvedic drug manufacturers,” said Sachin Singh, chief executive officer of the Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI), the government arm that executes the jan aushadhi scheme.
The decision has been taken bearing in mind the increasing demand of ayurvedic products amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Lately, PM Modi himself has started promoting the use of ayurveda to boost immunity against the novel coronavirus.
“Several states have started including ayurveda in their strategy to fight Covid-19. The demand of these medicines at our stores is also increasing. Once they are available at our outlets, people can get them at the cheapest possible price,” Singh said.
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List of medicines to be sold
The list of “prioritised” ayurvedic medicines has been finalised by the DoP, the BPPI and the Ministry of AYUSH.
“We have shared a list of 20 items divided into six categories — ayurvedic fermented formulations (asava and arishta), liquid formulation (avaleh), gum-based products (guggulu), powdered medicines (churna), oil-based products (taila) and tablet-based products (gutika),” said a senior official from the Ministry of AYUSH — ayurveda, yoga, unani, siddha and homoeopathy.
The Modi government says the 6,376 pharmacy outlets under PMBJP sell 900 kinds of generic medicines and 154 kinds of surgical equipment at prices that are “50-90 per cent” less than the market price.
The scheme was originally called Jan Aushadhi Yojana (JAY) when launched by the Congress-led UPA government in 2008, but was re-branded and relaunched in 2015 by the Modi government as the Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Yojana (PMJAY), with the PM himself receiving credit for reviving it.
In 2016, it was again renamed PMBJP, with Modi making it a point to aggressively promote it in his election rallies.
Ahead of last year’s Lok Sabha elections, the PM again promoted it as a scheme that helped common people save Rs 1,000 crore.
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