With Narendra Modi taking oath as the new Prime Minister of India in 2014, India has undergone various developmental and infrastructural changes. As with every new government, the NDA government, too, brought in flurry of schemes to help the country grow further. But their effort to transform India into a modern and resourceful country did not stop right there. They also revived a few failed schemes of the erstwhile UPA government, those that no one ever imagined could reap great and effective results.
One such failed schemes was the Jan Aushadhi Scheme, which aimed at providing generic medicines at lesser prices compared to the costly branded ones. Launched way back during the UPA regime, the common Indian masses were mostly unaware of its existence till 2015, when the Modi-led NDA government renamed it as Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Yojana. It was once again renamed in November 2016 to Pradhan Mantri Bharatiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP). And this time, the scheme got a great push from the government.
The scheme, before it was transformed by the NDA government, saw only 80 operational stores across the length and breath of India. Now, as per the latest data, more than 2,747 Jan Aushadhi kendras are operational across the country. Although the target was to achieve 3,000 such stores across the country by March 2017, this leap in less than a year after the announcement of the revival of the scheme seems pretty impressive.
Furthermore, the scheme has not only slashed the prices of some of the costliest medicines in the market (especially those required on a daily basis) but also provided an opportunity for the youth to do business in an honest and credible way. For example, the price of anti-diabetic drug glimepiride is Rs 4.02 under the government scheme while it costs Rs 54 in market.
And as far as the employment concern goes, the NDA government has kept it pretty simple and affordable. As per the scheme, the franchisee owners shall get 20 per cent commission on the amount of sales calculated on a monthly basis. Apart from this commission, the government has also decided to award a monthly incentive of Rs 10,000. So, in case a person is able to make sales of Rs 1 lakh in a month, he or she will be earn a total of Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 out of it. The entire amount will be directly transferred to the bank account of the franchisee owner.
But how was PM Modi able to turn around the entire “failed” scheme to suit the purpose perfectly?
He began working on the project as soon as he came to power. Between 2014 and 2017, as many as 636 medicines and 132 surgical/consumable items have been brought under the scheme as compared to nearly 100 from 2008 to 2014 under the UPA II government. What needs to be highlighted is the fact that apart from medicines for rare diseases, medicines required for chronic diseases such as hypertension, asthma, diabetes and even cancer have been included.
Furthermore, the NDA government has also introduced a “therapeutic basket” category, which covers all 23 major therapeutic categories such as anti-infective, anti-diabetics, cardiovascular, anti-cancer and gastro-intestinal. This has slashed down the prices of daily-required medicines to a great deal, attracting people to buy medicines from these designated shops or kendras rather than from private medicine marts.
For a public scheme to be effective and beneficial for common good, an efficient supply chain is also needed. Earlier, the UPA II government had deployed only PSUs to manufacture as well as supply the drug. However, now, 125 suppliers, certified under the WHO’s Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), make a part of the scheme.
But has this in any way degraded the quality of the medicines produced?
Well, no! The medicines procured from the suppliers undergo a stringent quality test conducted by the Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) before being made available in the market. According to the BPPI:
Each batch of each drug is tested at BPPI’s empanelled National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) accredited laboratories in order to ensure quality, safety and efficacy of medicines and conformation with required standards.
So, needless to say, this transformation of the scheme has garnered huge turnover for the government. It is to be noted that the annual turnover of PMBJP has also increased to Rs 73.66 crore in 2017-18 (as on October 30, 2017) from Rs 33.4 crore in 2016-17 and Rs 12.43 crore in 2015-16.
In fact, to aid more people into setting up more stores under PMBJP, an incentive of Rs 2.5 lakh will be given.
But where can you find the designated stores?
In order to make these critical and important medicines available to every Indian citizen without much effort, the government has tied with the Union Railways Ministry to open around jan aushadhi kendras at more 1,000 railway stations. Not only this, the center also announced in August that it plans to open more such stores at the PSU-run petrol pumps.
In doing so, the Modi government seems to be clear in their effort to provide timely medicinal aid to every Indian at slashed rates, something that India has always been in dire need of. As known to all, majority of Indian population still cannot afford proper medicinal facilities at the current rates. So, with this PMBJP, the government is seemingly doing its best to provide for the common good.
It has also slashed down the rates of stent and knee implants by more than 50 per cent apart from promising a strict legal framework to ensure that doctors prescribed low-cost generic medicines ahead of expensive branded medicines.
What do you think about this yojana? Do you think it has aided the countless people who couldn’t afford proper medicines?