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COVID-19: Various measures taken to ensure availability of essential drugs, says govt

"The Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) has taken various measures to ensure the availability of essential drugs at reasonable prices during the COVID-19 pandemic," Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers D V Sadananda Gowda said in reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha. Giving details of the measures taken by the government, Gowda said a 'control room' has been set up with a helpline number and "issues like non-availability of medicines, masks, gloves, hand sanitisers etc", and price violation in the case of these essential items were resolved promptly.

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 18-09-2020 16:09 IST | Created: 18-09-2020 15:48 IST
COVID-19: Various measures taken to ensure availability of essential drugs, says govt
Representative Image Image Credit: ANI

The government has taken "timely and effective" measures to tackle any possible disruptions in supply of essential drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic and ensured their seamless availability across the country, Parliament was informed on Friday. "The Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) has taken various measures to ensure the availability of essential drugs at reasonable prices during the COVID-19 pandemic," Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers D V Sadananda Gowda said in reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha.

Giving details of the measures taken by the government, Gowda said a 'control room' has been set up with a helpline number and "issues like non-availability of medicines, masks, gloves, hand sanitisers etc", and price violation in the case of these essential items were resolved promptly. An inter-ministerial committee under the chairmanship of Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) Joint Drug Controller S Eswara Reddy has been constituted to monitor trends of export and import of APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients), formulations and medical devices to ensure their timely availability in the country and to prevent shortages, he added. The committee submits its reports from time to time, Gowda said. Availability of drugs has been ensured by coordinating with state health authorities like state drug controllers (SDCs) and central government authorities including CDSCO and the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), he said while detailing about the government's "timely and effective measures" in this regard.

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) under the DoP collected the critical information from drug manufacturers that was used in decision making to ensure drug availability, Gowda said. About the other measures, he said that "steps have been taken to ensure the availability of Heparin used in COVID-19 treatment. Further, on intervention in the issue of price-parity of N-95 masks by the NPPA, major manufacturers, importers of N-95 Masks have reduced their prices significantly up to 67 per cent". The DoP also coordinated on issues related to production of raw material, medicines, medical devices, packaging material etc, he said. It also ensured seamless movement of raw materials, packing materials, finished goods, manpower among other things to see availability of life saving essential drugs during the lockdown, Gowda said.

"The NPPA has taken various steps to ensure the availability of life saving essential drugs such as hydroxychloroquine, paracetamol, vaccines, anti-tuberculosis drugs, anti-diabetic drugs, cardiac drugs, imported anti-epileptic drugs and various COVID-19 drugs," the minister explained. Further, on the intervention of the DoP, manufacturers of Remdesivir have created a helpline to make the drug available, Gowda said.


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