Govt norms facilitate purchase of substandard drugs
L-1 Zone Bar Elbows Out High-End Companies
Srinagar, Oct 28: The Health and Medical Education Department in Jammu and Kashmir is playing with the lives of patients by procuring “substandard” drugs and equipments from a number of companies following a financial code bar seeking procurement only from the agencies which offer the goods at the ‘lowest rate’. All this, according to sources, is being done in the name of going by the financial code even as it risks the lives of hundreds of patients every day.
Highly placed administrative sources disclosed to Greater Kashmir that the procedure has become troublesome as it was mostly the “substandard companies” which figure among the selectees during the meetings of the State Level Purchase Committees in the Health and Medical Education Department.
“The financial code says that drugs and material are to be procured from companies figuring in L-1 zone, which means those offering them on lowest rates. This gives a safe passage to the companies who cite lowest rates for various drugs to be procured. With the result, it becomes impossible for the medicos to procure standard drugs from reputable companies,” they said.
Sources said it has been found that the drugs, including the life-saving ones, procured prove “ineffective” on usage. “In the names of rules, the quality of drugs is being seriously compromised, which is unheard of in any part of the world,” they said.
There are four purchase committees in the Health and Medical Education Department which meet quite often to finalize the items to be procured for the health centres across Jammu and Kashmir. The drugs worth millions of rupees are purchased annually. “There are a number of companies which compete in the bidding process. But what happens is that most of the high-end pharmaceutical companies they don’t have enough financial margin to keep their rates low, given the fact that the drugs happen to be qualitatively fine. But since there is the L1 bar, they are naturally ousted from the process,” said a medico, who is associated with one of the Purchase Committees. “It is imperative that the state government do away with the code so that there is no compromise on the quality of drugs.”
Sources said the Medical Education sector alone purchases drugs and equipments worth Rs 3 crore annually for its associated hospitals. “At times, even the banned companies figure in the selection list. There are political pressures involved and there is also the issue of companies approaching bureaucrats and ministers for recommendations. That has become a big nuisance,” they said. “Sometimes it is observed that the bidding process has not been transparent and there has been some breach of information somewhere. The state government must seriously look into the issue and ensure that favouritism is not promoted in this vital sector.”
Authorities clearly acknowledge that the arbitrary financial code was a problem. “It is indeed a problem. There is always a recommendation that we should go for L-1 purchases. We do face difficulties on this front,” said the GMC principal, Dr Shahida Mir. “But there is a provision that if the concerned Head of the Department feels that a particular drug is not standard, he can justify his objections. But again there is a problem of audit that follows this.”
Dr Shahida admitted that they occasionally receive complaints about the drugs they select during the purchase committees. “After usage, we do occasionally receive complaints about certain drugs being ineffective. We do act upon them. The problem is that we don’t have a full-fledged drug-testing laboratory in the Valley. We have the drugs outside which takes months together. We rely on a certificate issued to the companies by the Drug Controller against the particular drugs,” she told Greater Kashmir.
COMMITTES DEALING WITH IT: CHIB
The Minister for Medical Education, R S Chib, said the purchase of drugs was being handled by the purchase committees. “So far I haven’t received any complaint in this regard. We are soon formulating the drug policy for the state after which we can resolve all the issues concerning us with regard to drugs,” he told Greater Kashmir.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 28 Oct 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 28 Oct 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 29 Oct 2010 00:00:00 IST
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