What is Project AMRIT?
It is a pilot project by the Union Health Ministry in collaboration with public sector company HLL Lifecare Ltd to provide anti-cancer drugs and medicines and implants for cardiovascular diseases at a subsidized cost. A country, which has an estimated 2.8 million people suffering from cancer, received its first pharmacy retail store on 15 November 2015. The outlet on the All India Institute of Medical Sciences campus that was inaugurated by Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda is the first of its kind.
The AMRIT or Affordable Medicine and Reliable Implants for Treatment pharmacy will initially sell cancer drugs. It is only towards the end of this month that cardiovascular drugs and implants will be made available to the patients at a discount of 50-60% on the market price. Here are some highlights of the scheme:
- AMRIT has been started as a trial and will be offered only at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences pharmacy initially.
- After a review, it is likely to be expanded to other central government hospitals and regional care centres.
- AMRIT is a joint project managed by the government and HLL Lifecare Ltd.
- Initially, 195 anti-cancer drugs, 186 cardiac drugs, and 148 cardiac implants would be offered at a discount of 60-90%.
- This is likely to result in a huge subsidy for patients suffering from cancer as the cost of chemotherapy sessions for various types of cancers is usually in the range of Rs 75, 000 – Rs 1, 00,000.
- It is unclear from news reports as to how the government is planning to fund the subsidized healthcare products.
- It also remains to be seen if the scheme is put to practice adequately and service users make appropriate use of the opportunity.
- It would also be in the larger interest of the service users that the scheme is made available in other parts of the country too.
- There are also suggestions to levy tax on tobacco-products manufacturers to fund anti-cancer services. Whether this would be considered as a viable option by the health ministry is yet unclear.
However, with the AMRIT pharmacy receiving a decent footfall, let’s all hope that the project goes on to become a beacon of hope for patients suffering from cancer and heart ailments.