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Mumbai: Civic hospitals, which were reeling under an acute shortage of medicines for the last one year, were managing so far by procuring stock from private suppliers. But this stock too is fast being depleted and the deadline to fill tenders for supply of drugs under Schedule II is expiring on September 26. However, a tender for the procurement of medicines under Schedule I was floated last week.

According to civic officials, the stock of Schedule Drugs II will run out and patients are likely to be affected. Although there is a shortage of medicines in all the hospitals, the corporation has shown least interest in floating tenders at the earliest, officials feel. “Despite reminding the corporation of the contract period coming to an end and we need to procure medicines, nothing has been done. Authorities should have been more responsible, considering that hospitals are already grappling with shortage,” he said.

In the midst of the ongoing shortage, deans of civic hospitals have been procuring medicines privately, out of a minimal budget allocated to them. However, this has capped the free medication provided to patients. “In civic hospitals, medicines are given free of cost. But when we have to procure medicines from outside, we are given a budget. So we can provide free medicine only during emergencies," said a dean. The most affected would be peripheral hospitals, which would be left with no options but to either refer patients to major hospitals or ask to buy medicines from private shops.

Dr Saeeda Khan, corporator and member of the BMC's health committee, said the process of procuring medicines is completely wrong and this causes delays. “Currently, the corporation asks hospitals about the quantum of medicines they want and after that they float a tender. Even though the deans are asked to procure medicines, often patients are left with no options but to buy them from outside,” she said.

What are Schedule I and Schedule II drugs?

Schedule I drugs include injections such as adrenaline, amikacin, ampicillin and dicyclomine.

Schedule II drugs include tablets and capsules such as amoxicillin, calcium carbonate and dicylomine.

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