With the aim to reduce the expenditure incurred by patients on treatment of cancer and heart diseases, the Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Shri J P Nadda inaugurated the Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment (AMRIT) outlet at AIIMs. The retail outlet will sell drugs for the two ailments at highly discounted rates at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to begin with.
AMRIT will be launched in all Central Govt hospitals soon, Shri Nadda stated. He further added “What we launched today in the form of AMRIT pharmacy reflects our strong commitment to reduce the cost of treatment for the patients. Lakhs of patients will benefit from this initiative. The AMRIT pharmacy would be selling 202 cancer and 186 cardio-vascular drugs, and 148 types of cardiac implants at very affordable prices. Patients can buy medicines and implants at 50 to 60 percent cheaper prices than the open market from AMRIT outlet in AIIMS.”
The project has been floated in a tie-up with government-owned HLL Lifecare Ltd (HLL) which is deputed to establish and run the AMRIT chain of pharmacies across the country.
“This is certainly an innovative initiative. The government is pinning a lot of hope on it, given that it is an IT-enabled system,” Shri Nadda said. “We are exploring the possibility of scaling up the facility and also making it accessible to larger number of people in various parts of the country.”
Initially, AMRIT pharmacy will retail cancer drugs, based on authentic prescriptions from doctors. By this month-end, cardiovascular drugs will be dispensed in line with medicines sold for cancer. Based on the outcome of the AIIMS outlet, this initiative will be taken to other central government hospitals and Regional Cancer Centres.
The government’s move comes amid statistics that peg Indians diagnosed with cancer at 700,000 every year. About 2.8 million people have cancer at any point of time and half a million die of the disease each year. The annual figure of women being diagnosed with breast cancer in India is 145,000, according to the World Health Organisation. A significant number of patients (nearly over 50 per cent) stop visiting hospitals after two or three cycles of chemotherapy due to unaffordable costs.
Also present at the event were Shri Arun Kumar Panda, Additional Secretary, MoHFW, AIIMS Director Prof M.C. Misra, AIIMS Deputy Director Mr V Srinivas and HLL Lifecare Limited Chairman and Managing Director Dr. M. Ayyappan, along with senior officials from the Health Ministry.