PAC raps Health Secy on spurious drug supply for Central scheme : The Tribune India

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PAC raps Health Secy on spurious drug supply for Central scheme

NEW DELHI: The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament today chided the Ministry of Health for “misleading” it on spurious drug supply and non-transparent procurement of medicines under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) and asked it to return in 10 days with a satisfactory explanation on the matter.



Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 9

The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament today chided the Ministry of Health for “misleading” it on spurious drug supply and non-transparent procurement of medicines under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) and asked it to return in 10 days with a satisfactory explanation on the matter.

The scheme, run and monitored centrally, provides subsidised healthcare to central government employees and pensioners and their dependents across 25 cities through 273 allopathic dispensaries. But not all is well with the quality of drugs being disbursed through CGHS dispensaries and the Comptroller and Auditor General recently reported glaring evidence of supply of substandard and spurious drugs in CGHS facilities.

PAC, currently examining CAG’s observations on CGHS, had today summoned Health Secretary BP Sharma and Pharmaceutical Secretary VK Subburaj to get answers to pointed questions which PAC sources said the committee “didn’t get”.

“We were not satisfied with the answers of the Health Secretary and told him he was misleading the panel. The committee has asked him to furnish satisfactory replies within 10 days after it will finalise its report,” a source in PAC told The Tribune.

Committee’s anxieties stem mainly from two issues around CGHS drug procurement — how is the ministry ensuring that quality drugs are prescribed to dispensary visitors and what’s the penalising mechanism if substandard medicines are prescribed. The CAG has pointed out that in CGHS Kolkata, substandard drugs were issued to patients even before the report of drug efficacy came out to certify the drug quality. Likewise in Mumbai between 2009 and 2012, CAG has reported that over Rs 29 lakh worth of CGHS allopathic drugs were found substandard.

PAC sources said they were not convinced with Health Ministry’s contention today that a two layered mechanisms was in place to ensure drug quality. “We asked the ministry officials why spurious drugs were detected in dispensaries if that was the case. We didn’t get convicing answers. Also when we asked the Health Ministry what they had done to de-register manufacturers of substandard drugs, we got no answers,” a PAC member said.

PAC further grilled the Health Secretary on instances of CGHS doctors locally procuring drugs that are not part of the CGHS drug formulary. “CAG has revealed many cases where doctors make local level procurements at high prices of non CGHS drugs and in return get gifts and foreign trips from pharma firms. We needed answers to these issues but didn’t quite get any,” said a member of PAC wondering why the CGHS formulary has not been updated since 2008 if new drugs are indeed required to be procured.

Started in New Delhi in 1954, scheme is now in operation in Allahabad, Ahmadabad, Bangalore, Bhubhaneshwar, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Dehradun, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Jabalpur, Kanpur, Kolkatta, Lucknow, Meerut, Mumbai, Nagpur, Patna, Pune, Ranchi, Shillong, Trivandrum and Jammu.

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