To ensure there is no shortage of medicines in state-run hospitals, the Maharashtra Drugs Procurement Authority has decided to close the tendering process once and for all as it has been allegedly hampering the purchase over the years. From next year, hospital administrations can procure medicines as per rate agreements that will be valid for two years.
Medicines can be procured within eight days of raising demand
As per agreed contracts, medicines can be procured within eight days of raising the demand. This will also ensure that the stock doesnt reach expiry date, said Dheeraj Kumar, acting CEO of Maharashtra Medical Goods Procurement Authority. Sources said the delay in implementing the recently passed Medical Goods Procurement Authority Act and the resultant change in procurement rules are to blame for the shortage across government hospitals.
This led to the recent 80 deaths, including that of 17 infants, at hospitals in Nanded, Sambhajinagar and Nagpur. The government, however, has continued to deny that any shortage existed. An official from the state public health department said that hospitals will enter into a rate agreement on the lines of the Rajasthan Medical Supply Corporation and the Tamil Nadu Medical Services. We are completing the paperwork by the first week of December.
From January 2024, tendering will be ruled out, he said. The official added that hospitals rely on 150 essential drugs, while they have prepared a list of 800 drugs used across state-run hospitals. He said medical experts, pharmacists and drug procurement officers are working to sort this out on their level. Meanwhile, the state government has extended powers to local authorities to use 100% of funds from the district planning development committee (DPDC) reserved for buying medicines. In 2022, too, districts faced drug shortages.
The previous government had then issued a similar circular to expand the medicine procurement budget at the district level. This funding allows deans to procure medicines locally. The current limit for medicine procurement by the dean of Government Medical College and Hospitals (GMCH) is capped at Rs10 lakh.
From 2017, Haffkine BioPharmaceutical Corporation Ltd was entrusted with the task of purchasing medicines for hospitals. Shockingly, though, funds amounting to over Rs500 crore were returned due to non-implementation of the tender process in time. After an uproar, the government took charge from Haffkine and separated the Maharashtra Medical Supplies Procurement Authority to procure drugs and equipment.
In March this year, Maharashtra enacted the Medical Goods Procurement Authority Act with the aim to establish an authority for singlepoint procurement and supply of certain medicines, medical goods, medical consumables, devices, equipment and more for public hospitals and medical colleges. The authority was expected to do away with alleged delays in procurement of medicines from Haffkine, which didnt happen.