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Health Ministry, DoP to Expand Ayushman Bharat & Revise Pharma Regulations

Written by : Jayati Dubey

June 10, 2024

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The health ministry plans to enhance Ayushman Bharat's coverage, reflecting the party's manifesto promise to broaden the scheme's reach.

As PM-designate Narendra Modi gears up to lead a new coalition, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Department of Pharmaceuticals are setting ambitious goals.

Priorities include expanding the Ayushman Bharat health scheme and implementing revised Schedule M regulations and the Uniform Code for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP), reports Business Standard.

Ayushman Bharat Scheme Expansion

The Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY), the flagship healthcare insurance scheme of the BJP-led government, is poised for significant expansion under the new administration.

The health ministry plans to enhance coverage, reflecting the party's manifesto promise to broaden the scheme's reach.

According to the National Health Authority (NHA) dashboard, the scheme is currently recognized as the world's largest health protection program, providing coverage to over 345 million citizens with free health insurance up to INR 5 Lakh for hospitalization.

The BJP has proposed expanding the scheme to include senior citizens and transgender individuals, ensuring their access to free and quality healthcare.

"We will expand the Ayushman Bharat Yojana to cover senior citizens and provide them access to free and quality healthcare…We will expand the network of Garima Grahas to cater to the needs of transgender individuals. We will issue identity cards to ensure their recognition nationwide. Furthermore, all eligible transgender individuals will be covered under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana," stated the BJP manifesto.

Additionally, industry insiders suggest that the Centre is considering increasing the insurance coverage limit under the Ayushman Bharat scheme from INR 5 Lakh to INR 10 Lakh.

This move aims to provide more comprehensive coverage and reduce the financial burden on beneficiaries.

Addressing Challenges in Scheme Implementation

Despite the scheme's success, hospitals have raised concerns over delays in reimbursements. These delays could pose significant challenges to the scheme's expansion and require the government to secure additional funding.

To address these issues, the health ministry established a 16-member committee in March to oversee the scheme's implementation, focusing on beneficiary identification, hospitalization processes, and modes of implementation.

Revised Schedule M: Ensuring Quality Drug Production

The DoP, under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, is prioritizing the implementation of the revised Schedule M, which sets forth good manufacturing practices (GMP) for pharmaceutical products.

This initiative is aimed at ensuring the production of high-quality drugs in India.

The updated Schedule M includes several new requirements, such as the introduction of a pharmaceutical quality system (PQS), quality risk management (QRM), product quality review (PQR), qualification and validation of equipment, and a computerized storage system for all drug products.

These changes are intended to align Indian pharmaceutical manufacturing practices with global standards and enhance the quality and safety of medicines produced in the country.

In line with the revised Schedule M, the DoP is also working on the Revised Pharmaceuticals Technology Upgradation Assistance Scheme (RPTUAS).

This scheme aims to financially support drug manufacturers, helping them upgrade their technological capabilities and meet international standards. This initiative is expected to bolster the Indian pharmaceutical sector's competitiveness in the global market.

Uniform Code for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices

Another critical policy on the DoP's agenda is the proper implementation of the Uniform Code for Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) 2024.

This code seeks to curb unethical marketing practices in the pharmaceutical industry and prohibit medical representatives from using inducements to influence healthcare professionals.

While the groundwork for UCPMP implementation has already begun, ensuring compliance remains a significant challenge. The code's enforcement will involve monitoring a vast number of pharmaceutical companies and could lead to legal disputes as the industry adapts to these stricter regulations.


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