The government had in 2019 decided to widen the basket of NLEM by including health and hygiene products. However, due to Covid-19 nothing could be finalised. The government has now asked a committee of experts to resume the meetings and shortlist these products so that they can be brought under NLEM.
Bringing them under NLEM would mean it would be available within the health system in adequate numbers and will be assured. The committee will also see if prices of these products need to be regulated.
The committee on National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) had earlier formed sub-committees to categorize medicines, medical devices, disposables, and health and hygiene products according to how essential they are for healthcare.
The sub committee will identify consumables, hygiene products and will send the list to another committee.
“Products like sanitary napkins, adult diapers have to be on the list. Experts will deliberate on various aspects of hygiene products that should be available within the healthcare system at all times. “We have to decide what kind of soap to be put under the hygiene category, whether it should be liquid, medicated. What type of gloves-simple, powdered, lubricated etc be included in the list, said a committee member, requesting anonymity.
Medicines and devices listed in NLEM must be sold at the price fixed by the NPPA, while those in the non-scheduled list are allowed a maximum annual price hike of 10%.The government had in September last year included several anti-diabetes drugs and patented antivirals used in the treatment of tuberculosis, HIV and hepatitis C in the latest edition of the NLEM.
Popular anti-diabetes drug teneligliptin, insulin glargine injection, and common antibiotics like meropenem and cefuroxime have been included on the NLEM, 2022, bringing their prices down.
For the medicines included on the NLEM, manufacturers are required to sell their products at equal to or lower than the ceiling price. The calculation of the price is based on a simple averaging of the market prices of different brands of medicines having a market share of at least 1%.
(With inputs from health)