Govt launches Rashtriya Swasthya Beema Yojana for BPL families

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New Delhi, Apr 23 (UNI) The Government today announced the launch of Rashtriya Swasthya Beema Yojana for the below poverty line (BPL) families in the unorganised sector with the entire expenditure of the scheme to be borne by the Central and State Governments in the ratio of 75:25.

Chairing the fourth Interactive session of the Pharmaceutical Advisory Forum to discuss the issue of pricing and availability of medicines here, Minister of Chemicals, Fertilizers and Steel Ram Vilas Paswan said this new insurance scheme was launched in the country on April 1, 2008 and it estimated that within the next five years the entire BPL population of about 300 million would be brought under the scheme.

Giving information about the granting of ISO 9001:2000 certification to National Pharmaceutucal Pricing Authority (NPPA) by the Bureau of Indian Standards, he said his department and NPPA have initiatited a campaign for increasing Consumer Awareness about price and rational use of drugs and existing system and suggestions from States.

Mr Paswan further informed that a new National Pharmaceutical Policy has been drafted in which the focus is on the prices and availability of essential drugs. The Policy consists of various measures for improving access to medicines for the poor population as well as for the growth of industry.

He also mentioned that there is an urgent need to step up expenditure on R&D for long term sustainability and to maintain an edge at the global level and the Government is providing several measures in terms of tax break and financial support to encourage R&D in this sector.

Special attention is also being paid to encourage research in tropical and neglected diseases which are relevant largely to the India and other developing countries.

The Minister said for tackling an important issue of availability of the highly-skilled and trained manpower in the industry, in addition to the one National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), the Government is establishing six more such institutes.

Mr Paswan further informed that the Department has carried out Revision of Monitoring Parameter for non-scheduled formulations from the earlier level of 20 per cent to 10 per cent per annum from April 1, 2007.

Excise Duty reduced from 16 per cent to 8 per cent and as a result, the prices of medicine should be down by 4.58 per cent, he said.

The Minister also said that Generic drug stores will be opened in all the districts and Pharma PSUs will supply drugs to them. Working Group on Branded-generic will be constituted soon and report expected in the next meeting. State Governments to issue directions to doctors in Government hospitals to prescribe only generic medicines and Pharmaceutical Policy is expected to be finalised and notified at the earliest, he added.

Under the NPPA's new initiative, a Centre for Information Facilitation and Grievances (NPPA-CIFG) facility has been inaugurated and available at three places in Delhi while 7 more centres will be opened for the benefit of the people and an award of Rs 1,000 has been fixed for the best suggestion.

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