The government has identified commonly used hygiene products, which according to it should be of assured quality and accessible within the health system in sufficient numbers. The products are namely soaps, sanitary napkins, adult diapers, hospital hand gloves, operation theatre gumboots and floor disinfectants etc.
In September last year, a committee on National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) had set up sub-committees to classify medicines, medical devices, disposables, and health and hygiene products as per their criticality for the healthcare.
The NLEM committee, which is in the midst of determining necessary medicines, hygiene products, consumables, will send the list to a second committee, which includes Rajiv Kumar, Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog, Preeti Sudan, Secretary, health ministry; and PD Vaghela, Secretary, the Departmentof Pharmaceuticals. The said committee will then take a decision on which of these products need to be brought under price control, the Livemint reported.
Experts are holding discussions on several aspects of hygiene products that should be accessible within the healthcare at all times. "There are discussions going on as to what kind of soap be put under the hygiene category, whether it should be liquid, medicated. Microbiologists have also been roped in for it. What type of gloves-simple, powdered, lubricated etc be included in the list," a source told the news daily.
This move is a deviation from the current mechanism in which all necessary medicines were under price control. Under the prior mechanism, the health ministry used to ready a list of drugs that qualify for price regulation. After this, the Department of Pharmaceuticals, under the Ministry Of Chemicals and Fertilisers included them into Schedule 1 of the drug price control order. Then the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) fixed the drugs' prices in this schedule.
Medicines and devices scheduled in NLEM list have to be sold at the price fixed by the NPPA, whilst the ones in the non-scheduled list are permitted a maximum yearly price hike of 10 per cent. The NLEM list is assessed every three years to include or exclude drugs. As per the experts, the alterations to the list are likely to be made on the lines of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) essential medicines list, which was made public this year.