Union minister Mansukh Mandaviya said the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Pariyojana, under which the government provides generic medicines at subsidised rates, is one of the most popular schemes of the Narendra Modi government that has led to savings worth Rs 1,000 crore for common people.
Said Mandaviya to THE WEEK, “The medicines under the PMBJP scheme are cheaper by 50 to 90 per cent of average market price. Daily, we have close to 200 trucks of medicines, under this scheme, moving across the length and breadth of the country.” He said the government plans to have at least one Jan Aushadhi store in each block of the country by 2020.
“So far we have 5,050 Jan Aushadhi stores across 652 districts in the country. As we increase the outlets, we need support from all, including the state governments. We have four warehouses in Delhi, Guwahati, Bengaluru and Chennai, which will be increased soon. More and more people should be aware of the scheme and its immense benefits, and they should utilise it,” said Mandaviya.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, some days ago, had an interaction with the beneficiaries of the Jan Aushadhi scheme. He said that December 7 will from now on be celebrated as Jan Aushadhi Diwas across the country. “The government had taken two major steps to ensure the availability of high-quality medicines at lower prices. The cost of 850 medicines was regulated and the prices of heart stent and equipment for knee surgery were reduced,” said Modi.
The state government or eligible private applicants can open Jan Aushadhi stores at a place of their choice. All necessary help is provided by the Central government. There is criticism against the Central government of politicising the social scheme and using this low-cost drug scheme to promote the BJP. Apparently, all medicines being sold through the scheme carry a logo that highlights—‘Bha’, ‘Ja’ and ‘Paa’ in Hindi, in saffron colour, which while on one hand is the acronym of the scheme and on the other the initials of the BJP . There were also complaints from some opposition parties, in recent times, on how PM Modi’s pictures at the Jan Aushadhi centres smack of self promotion, and advertisement for the party.
The Jan Aushadhi scheme, implemented through the Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India, under the Department of Pharmaceuticals, was initially launched in 2008 by the UPA-I to provide quality medicines at affordable prices. But it couldn't take off in the manner it was expected because of frequent quality lapses. The scheme was re-launched in 2015 by Modi government, that expanded the scheme from only generic medicines to products such as pregnancy-testing kits, baby and adult diapers and nicotine replacement pills.
Sivananda S. Patil, health minister of Karnataka, said to THE WEEK that the Jan Aushadhi scheme is of great help to the people of Karnataka. “Just because it is a scheme by the Central government, it should not be opposed. I acknowledge it as a good scheme. Though there are some concerns on the supply side which need to be addressed at the earliest. We will cooperate with the Central government in every manner that we can when it comes to this scheme,” said Patil.
He said no party should promote such schemes as their own with party symbols in centres where these medicines and kits are distributed. A Congress leader, Patil belongs to the Bijapur constituency in north Karnataka.
Tamil Nadu’s health Minister C. Vijaya Baskar said to THE WEEK that Jan Aushadhi scheme is benefiting people in Tamil Nadu. “The state government has its own health schemes. But we are creating awareness about the Union government’s Jan Aushadhi scheme and as far as I know people are utilising it. Integration of Central and state schemes are the need of the hour, and Tamil Nadu is taking the lead in it,” said Baskar.