Pharmacy selling cancer drugs at heavy discount opened

New Delhi, Nov 15 (IANS) Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda on Sunday inaugurated India’s first retail facility at AIIMS to provide drugs for cancer and cardiovascular diseases at highly discounted rates.

The pharmacy named AMRIT — Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment — will have 202 drugs of cancer and cardiovascular diseases where the price is going to be reduced on an average by 60 to 90 percent.

“Under the AMRIT programme, we want to give medicines at an affordable cost. We have identified 202 drugs of cancer and cardio-vascular diseases where the price is going to reduced on an average by 60 to 90 percent. In the same way, 148 cardiac implants will be given from the centre and sold here and their cost will be reduced by 50 to 60 percent,” Nadda said on the occasion.

Calling it a pilot project, the minister said: “After 15 days we are going to review the programme, and in the coming times, we will try to replicate it in all central hospitals.”

AMRIT will be managed by the government-owned HLL Lifecare Ltd (HLL), which will sell both drugs and implants at significant discount on market rates, based on authentic prescriptions from doctors not only to AIIMS patients but even to patients availing treatment at other hospitals.

“Some of the prices of the AMRIT Pharmacy drugs are strikingly low such as Amrit will sell ‘Docetaxel 120mg’ used for chemotherapy cycle at Rs.888.75 (93 percent rebate) for one cycle, when the MRP of the injection is Rs.13,440. Similarly, Caboplatin 450 mg would be sold at Rs.1,316.25 while its MRP is Rs.2,561.57,” said AIIMS Director M.C. Misra.

In India, a total of 70,000 people are diagnosed with cancer every year. An official report says 2.8 million people have cancer at any point of time and half a million die of the disease each year.

Talking about the costly treatment cost of cancer, Misra said: “A significant number of patients (nearly over 50 percent) stop visiting hospitals after two or three cycles of chemotherapy due to unaffordable costs.”

“Some breast-cancer patients need targeted treatment drugs, which cost around Rs.75,000 for a course; a patient could need up to 17 courses. Similarly, a drug used to treat colon, kidney, lung and gall bladder cancer can add around Rs.8 lakh to a patient’s bill which is around Rs.1 lakh a cycle,” said Misra.

On the occasion, the health minister also inaugurated the newly renovated ENT OPD block, and reviewed the progress of the works of the upcoming OPD block, Mother and Child Block and Surgical Block.

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