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Drug crunch bitter pill

- Generic stores at RIMS, Sadar Hospital run out of stock

Barely 20 days after the state government opened generic medicine outlets at two places in Ranchi — Sadar Hospital and Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) — the shops have run out of stock, forcing patients to buy essential drugs from private retailers at higher prices.

“I came to buy medicines for a burn injury, only to be told that they are not available. The state government has opened the generic medicine shops to make them showpieces,” said an irritated Ashok Prasad, whose relative is admitted in Sadar Hospital.

The shelves at both outlets are virtually empty, barring a few antibiotics.

“Nearly 20 customers have gone away empty-handed since morning as the medicines they were looking for are not available with us. Demand for generic medicine is very high,” said an official at Sadar Hospital on Monday.

In order to ensure that patients, particularly those from economically backward backgrounds, get essential drugs at a minimal price, the state government planned the open generic medicine shops at sadar hospitals as well as at the three medical colleges. In the state capital, they were inaugurated by none other than health minister Hemlal Murmu on August 22.

While for minor ailments like stomach ache, headache, body pain et al, medicines were being given without prescriptions, for major diseases, prescriptions had been made mandatory.

The price of generic medicines at the government outlets is a third of the market rate and hence the two medicine shops became extremely popular within a few days. Stocks, however, ran out last week and fresh supply is awaited.

The state government has entered into an agreement with pharmaceutical companies like Hindustan Antibiotics Limited, Karnataka Antibiotics Limited, Rajasthan Drugs Limited, Bengal Chemical Pvt. Limited and Indian Drugs Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Limited. According to the agreement, these companies have to supply the necessary medicines to the generic shops. However, they have not done so yet.

“We have placed the orders with the companies for necessary drugs nearly 10 days back. We are desperately waiting for fresh supply. The companies reportedly do not have the required medicines and hence the delay,” said Dr S.K. Choudhary, civil surgeon of Ranchi Sadar Hospital, adding that the generic shops needed to run smoothly as they were of great help to the poor.