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India pledges free drugs for all citizens through public hospitals

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 17 April 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2808
  1. Ganapati Mudur
  1. 1New Delhi

The Indian government has said that it will make available free drugs in public hospitals in a bid to reduce the amount that patients spend out of their own pockets, which is tipping tens of thousands of households across the country into debt or poverty each year.

India’s health ministry is working with state governments to replicate nationwide a model for the free distribution of essential drugs at public health clinics and hospitals that has been successfully implemented over the past 15 years by the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

The national government will cover 80% of the cost of the programme, which public health experts and health economists estimate will require about 60 billion rupees (£730m; €890m; $1.16bn) a year over the next five years.

Many believe that the free drugs programme will be the easiest to implement component of a set of …

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