Drug shortage in govt hospitals: ‘Local’ purchase of medicines blamed

Drug shortage in govt hospitals: ‘Local’ purchase of medicines blamed

Local procurement of medicines is the major reason for their shortage in hospitals and the stoppage of supply by civic and state-approved suppliers. For the last five years, medicines worth nearly Rs 60 crore are being procured ‘locally’ from these suppliers.

Swapnil MishraUpdated: Friday, February 14, 2020, 06:55 AM IST
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Gokuldas Tejpal Hospital |

Local procurement of medicines is the major reason for their shortage in hospitals and the stoppage of supply by civic and state-approved suppliers. For the last five years, medicines worth nearly Rs 60 crore are being procured ‘locally’ from these suppliers. However, bills for these day-to-day local purchases, outside the tendering process, have gone unpaid. As per rules, not more than 10 per cent of the funds given to hospitals can be used to procure medicines in this manner. So once again, hospitals are in a situation where they have almost exhausted their stock of medicines as suppliers will not deliver fresh stock until their pending ‘local purchase’ bills are cleared.

The state-run Sir Jamshedji Jeejeebhoy (JJ), Gokuldas Tejpal (GT), Cama and Albless and St. George hospitals have procured medicines worth Rs 60 crore locally. “In the last few years, St. George’s Hospital alone has locally purchased medicines worth Rs 1.5 crore. Similarly, JJ and GT have also made local purchases of medicines many times,” said Dipesh Shah, one of the suppliers.

Abhay Pandey, president, the All Food and Drug License Holders Foundation (AFDLHF), said for the last few years, increasingly, medicines are being bought locally and this local procurement is being done by hospitals even to meet the smallest needs. “It has been learnt when the hospitals urgently need medicine, they resort to immediate local purchase, but when we submit the bill for it, they do not clear it,” he said.

“Now, when we are asking for payment, the administration argues that any government hospital can spend up to 10 per cent of its local budget out of the entire budget,”Pandey added.

Senior officials attached to the government hospital said, many times, due to the influx of patients in the hospital, suddenly purchases of essentials, including medicines are necessitated. Since the tender process is time-consuming, the process of local purchasing is used.

Dr Pallavi Saple, Dean (JJ Group of Hospitals), said “For the last five months, we are not making local purchases at all. The bills the supplier is talking about are quite old.”

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