Devices, disposables & consumables may enter essential medicines list
Mumbai: In good news for patients, the government has decided to restructure the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) with the objective to make it more contemporary, and in line with public health needs. For this purpose, the government will constitute a ‘Standing National Committee on Medicines’ involving scientists, doctors and experts to “review and revise” the NLEM, and may also include medical devices, disposables and consumables to the list, official sources told TOI.
Only cardiac stents from medical devices were included in the NLEM in 2016, following a court order.
The development assumes significance as the National List typically forms the basis of price caps extended on essential medicines by the drug prices regulator, as was done in the last revision.
Also, this time round, a standing committee with a three-year term has been constituted and will meet every six months to take stock and may also incorporate changes in the essential list.
With medical science evolving each day, there was a need for a committee which can take stock and have a longer tenure, the official added.
NLEM was last revised in 2015 by a one-time committee formed by the health ministry. The list was expanded to 384 drugs from the existing 348, after which ceiling prices were fixed by NPPA the following year.
In the last exercise, though drugs for critical illnesses like cancer, HIV and diabetes were added, many therapies were still missing.
The present exercise is expected to make the list more relevant and broadbased with inputs taken from World Health Organisation and Indian Pharmacopoeia, and add drugs included in the national health programmes.