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Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP)

Brief Introduction of the Policy
In November 2008, the Department of Pharmaceuticals introduced the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) in India to provide quality medicines at affordable prices to the masses. The scheme was previously named as ‘Jan Aushadhi’.

The policy’s mission includes:

  • Creating awareness among the public regarding generic medicines.
  • Creating demand for generic medicines through medical practitioners.
  • Creating awareness through education and awareness programmes—that high price need not be synonymous with high quality.
  • Providing all commonly used generic medicines that cover all therapeutic groups.
  • Providing all the related healthcare products under the scheme.

Need for the Policy
India is the one of the largest supplier of generic drugs in the world. Yet, the country’s marginalised populations have limited access to medicines as branded medicines are sold at significantly higher prices than their unbranded generic equivalents, despite of being identical in the therapeutic value. Therefore, there is an urgent need to ensure availability of cheaper generics to citizens; this is in the best interest of these populations. With the vision to provide quality generic medicines to all citizens, the government’s Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana brings this concept to reality.               

Policy Details
The scheme is being implemented by the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (BPPI), under the administrative control of the Department of Pharmaceuticals and the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers. It covers >1,250 medicines and 204 surgical & consumables in all key therapeutic categories such as anti-infective, anti-allergic, anti-diabetics, cardiovascular, anti-cancers and gastrointestinal medicines.

Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) Kendras

As of March 2021, ~7,500 Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana Kendras were operational in India. Under the PMBJP Kendras, a medicine is priced on the principle of a maximum of 50% of the average price of the top three branded medicines. Therefore, the cost of Jan Aushadhi medicines is cheaper by ~50% and in some cases, by 80-90% of the market price for branded medicines.

For applicants interested in opening a Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana Kendra, the key required criteria and services offered are as follows:

  • Any state government or any organisation (NGOs, trusts, charitable institutes, private hospitals, doctors, unemployed pharmacists and individual entrepreneurs) is eligible to apply for a new PMBJP Kendra.
  • The interested applicant must employ one B-Pharma/D-Pharma degree holder as a pharmacist in the planned store.
  • The PMBJP Kendra has to be located within the premises of government hospitals and private hospitals.
  • The PMBJP Kendra can sell medicines & surgical items, which are supplied by BPPI, and allied medical products that are commonly sold in chemist shops.
  • For PMBJP Kendras, medicines can only be procured via e-tendering—on an open tender basis from WHO (World Health Organisation), GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) compliant manufacturers only. In addition, medicines will undergo through two stages of stringent quality check process in nationally accredited labs.
  • An amount of Rs. 2.5 lakh (US$ 3,336) will be given to NGO, agencies, or individuals establishing PMBJP Kendras in government hospital and private hospital premises; Rs. 1 lakh (US$ 1,334.40) reimbursements of furniture and fixture will be given in the form of free medicines to only those Kendras set up in government hospitals.
  • Credit facility will be provided to all Kendras for 30 days against any post-dated cheques.
  • BPPI will arrange training sessions for those entrepreneurs who do not have any experience in running a medical store.

The procedure for opening a Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana Kendra are as follows:

  • The applicant shall submit either an online or offline application to the BPPI.
  • The applicant should own space or hired space that should be duly supported by a proper lease agreement. The minimum required space, which conforms to standards as approved by the BPPI, is 120 sq. ft.
  • For an individual applicant, Aadhaar and PAN cards are mandatory.
  • For institutions, NGOs, charitable institutes and hospitals, the required documents include Aadhaar card, PAN card, certificate of incorporation and registration certificates.
  • For government or government-nominated agencies, the required documents include details of the department that has allocated the space, along with supporting documents/sanction orders, PAN card and Aadhaar card.
  • The applicant should have the financial capacity to run the store supported by audited accounts for the last three years (bank statements for the last 3 years or sanction letter from bank for extending loan in case of individuals).

Jan Aushadhi Suvidha Oxo-Biodegradable Sanitary Napkin

On June 04, 2018, the Department of Pharmaceuticals announced the availability of Jan Aushadhi Suvidha Oxo-Biodegradable Sanitary Napkins at Rs. 2 (34 cents) to ensure easy accessibility of and provide affordable sanitary napkins to women in India. These napkins are available for sale in >6,500 Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana Kendras across the country.

Janaushadhi Sugam

The government introduced the Janaushadhi Sugam mobile application, a digital platform,  to help citizens facilitate services such as locate a nearby PMBJP Kendra, search Jan Aushadhi medicines, analyse/compare maximum retail prices (MRP) of products (including generic medicines vs. branded medicines) and overall savings.

Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) – Key Developments

  • In February 2021, the Karnataka government announced that it aims to establish 1,000 centres by the end of 2021. As of February 2021, there were 850 Jan Aushadhi centres in government hospitals.
  • In January 2021, the Punjab government announced that it will provide sanitary pad vending machines for girls in schools. These sanitary napkins are 100% biodegradable and will be sold at Re. 1 (1 cent) per pad.
  • In November 2020, pharma products worth Rs. 358 crore (US$ 47.77 million) were sold through Jan Aushadhi stores in the first seven months of FY20.
  • In August 2020, the Indian government announced to distribute >50 million sanitary napkins to underprivileged women from 6,000 Jan Aushadhi Kendras at the minimum price of Rs. 2.5 (34 cents) each.
  • In May 2020, many Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras started accepting medicine orders on WhatsApp and through emails and began delivering orders at the doorsteps of patients based on uploaded prescriptions.
  • In May 2020, the Indian government announced plans to set up a number of Aushdhi centres under the Pradhan Mantri Bharatiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana through a public-private partnership (PPP) model.
  • In May 2020, the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras (PMBJAK) announced its sales turnover of Rs. 52 crore (US$ 6.94 million) in April 2020, in spite procurement and logistic problems due to COVID-19-induced lockdowns.
  • In August 2019, the Central Government slashed the price of Jan Aushadhi Suvidha Oxo-Biodegradable sanitary napkin to Re. 1 (14 cents) per pad from Rs. 2.50 (34 cents).
  • In March 2019, the government announced to open 2,500 Jan Aushadhi stores across the country.
  • In March 2019, under the Jan Aushadhi scheme, the government provided quality medicines at affordable rates to citizens, leading to savings worth Rs. 1,000 crore (US$ 133.44 million).
  • In January 2019, the government announced that under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana, citizens saved ~Rs. 1,668 crore (US$ 222.58 million) on medicines.

Conclusion
With the health sector being a priority, the Government of India is continuously working to provide affordable treatments and medicines at cheaper prices to its citizens. The demand for generic medicines is rising as the Jan Aushadhi stores, across the country, are serving 10-15 lakh people per day. By the year 2024, the government aims to establish 10,000 Jan Aushadhi stores in the country.