The government plans to launch special drug stores that will sell generic medicines as part of its efforts to provide affordable medicines to poorer sections of the society.

The idea to provide cheaper but good-quality medicines to less privileged is in line with the UPA’s Common Minimum Programme. The government is working out a public-private partnership (PPP) model for these stores that would sell generic medicines at half the price of branded drugs. Apart from public sector pharmaceutical units, the government also intends to tie-up with private players who make generic drugs for production of essential medicines that would be sold through such outlets.

The government is also in talks with generic drug companies and chemist associations to make the programme successful. It is understood that chemist associations would play a major role in managing and promoting these shops. Generic drugs are identical to their branded counterpart in terms of strength, safety and efficacy.

The generics project would be carried out in different phases. Once talks with industry and retailers are concluded, the government plans to start a pilot project covering 15 states in the first phase of the programme. While the government will provide land and infrastructure for the shops, an investment of around Rs 3 lakh would be provided to build infrastructure of each shop. The government wants to put in a proper supply management to make the programme a success.

These outlets are likely to be located near government hospitals. It is understood that doctors in government hospitals would also be asked to prescribe generic medicines as much as possible.  According to experts, there is a global shift towards use of generics as governments world-wide are making efforts to bring down escalating health care costs.