As many as 76 companies, including some major players, have expressed interest to supply unbranded generic medicines to the Jan Aushadhi outlets being set up under the aegis of the Pharma Department to make available drugs at affordable prices for the poorer sections of the society.

In response to the tender inviting expression of interest from the manufacturers, 76 applications have been received and those were under verification. The physical verification to ensure that these units have complied with GMP-WHO norms was also being held by the department team, sources said. The companies included both the big and the small scale units. The process would be done completed and the manufacturers would be selected as per the norms set in the tenders, sources said, without giving the names of the companies.

Meanwhile, the small scale units who offered to supply drugs to the generic stores ever since the idea was mooted, will be meeting the senior officials to ensure that they also get a due pie. SPIC leaders confirmed that they would be meeting the department secretary with this purpose next week.

The department is aiming to make available 350 medicines through the chain of generic stores, coming up across the country. The Department has prepared a list of unbranded generic medicines, commonly used by patients for chronic and other diseases. The national list of essential medicines 2003 has also been used for the purpose. This will be considered as a common list. East state would be able to have an add-on list called the State list, based on the use of any specific medicines in the area.

The stores will purchase the drugs at 24 per cent of the MRP, but still the manufactures will be able to make a profit out of it, sources said. To ensure quality, GMP verification of the units would be done. Apart from that, the department has also asked the AIIMS to take up a scientific study to assess the quality of medicines sold through the outlets.

The department also launched a toll free helpline (1800-180-8080) to give information on the prices and availability of drugs. Besides, a portal will be in place to give comparative information on the prices, sources said.

The small scale units, which saw it as an opportunity to push their sales of unbranded generics, are keen to be associated with the venture and leaders will be reaffirming their commitment to make the stores successful. The terms of conditions put forward by the department for supply of medicines will also come under discussion, sources said.