The railways will allow its premises to be used for opening Janaushadhi outlets across the country, including stations and hospitals, to make medicines available to the common man at affordable prices.
The Janaushadhi campaign is launched by the government to provide quality medicines at affordable prices to the masses through special outlets — the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras.
"We have decided to set up Janausadhi stores at railway stations, dispensaries, workshops and wherever possible on rail premises," Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said in New Delhi on Tuesday.
The aim is to provide generic drugs at cheaper process to the public including railwaymen, Prabhu said.
The ministry of chemicals and fertilisers and railway ministry today announced an in-principle agreement under which such stores would be opened across various operations of railways, including stations and hospitals, among others.
"We have agreed in-principle to set up Janaushadhi stores across the railway infrastructure, including stations, hospitals etc," Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Ananth Kumar told reporters.
Officials from both the ministries will work out the modalities of the scheme and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will then be inked, he added.
"Around 2.5 crore people use railways to commute daily and it is our endeavour that these people should get the benefit of buying affordable medicines through Janaushadhi stores," Kumar said.
When asked about the time-frame of rolling out the scheme, Kumar said: "It should not take more than two months."
The rollout would happen in phases but the total number of stores is yet to be decided, he added.
The generic medicines provided by these outlets at lesser prices are equivalent in quality and efficacy to expensive branded drugs.
Kumar said the government has, till date, opened 1,640 Jan Aushadhi stores across 450 districts in the country to provide quality medicines at low cost to the public under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP).
He added that all the drugs available at these stores meet the WHO GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) benchmarks.
When asked about the impact of GST on generic medicines, Kumar said: "We will try that all those people who buy medicines from Jan Aushadhi stores are not impacted by the GST rollout."
Last month, Kumar had said he would speak to Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu to open Jan Aushadhi stores in around 1,000 major railway stations in the country.
Prabhu said his ministry would try to open as many such stores as possible across the railways network.
As the railways is the largest employer in India, the amalgamation of efforts between the two ministries for the percolation of generic drugs would increase their accessibility to the common man manifold, Prabhu added.