The central government on Tuesday added at least 34 drugs to the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2022 and dropped as many as 26 from the previous list. The new list contains a total 384 drugs in comparison to 376 in NLEM 2015. The NLEM 2022 comprises 384 drugs across 27 categories.
“Several antibiotics, vaccines, anti-cancer drugs, and many other important drugs will become more affordable & reduce patients’ out-of-pocket expenditure,” Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted on Tuesday.
Essential medicines are those that satisfy the priority health care needs, based on efficacy, safety, quality, and total cost of the treatment. The new list has added some anti-infectives such as Ivermectin, Mupirocin, and Nicotine Replacement Therapy, while drugs like Ranitidine and Sucralfate used to treat stomach ulcers, white petrolatum to treat dry skin, Atenolol and Methyldopa for treating high blood pressure have been deleted from the revised list.
“NLEM plays an important role in ensuring accessibility of affordable quality medicines at all levels of healthcare. This will give a boost to cost-effective, quality medicines and contribute towards a reduction in Out of Pocket Expenditure on healthcare for the citizens,” Mandaviya said.
“The primary purpose of NLEM is to promote rational use of medicines considering the three important aspects i.e., cost, safety, and efficacy. It also helps in optimum utilization of healthcare resources and budget; drug procurement policies, health insurance; improving prescribing habits; medical education and training for UG/PG; and drafting pharmaceutical policies,” said the minister.
The government said that the revision of NLEM 2022 has been done after constant consultation with stakeholders spanning from academia, industrialists and public policy experts, etc., and crucial documents like World Health Organization (WHO) EML 2021.
The government added drug medicines to treat endocrine disorders, Fludrocortisone, Ormeloxifene, and anti-diabetic drugs like insulin Glargine and Teneligliptin.
Montelukast, used in respiratory diseases, and Latanoprost - an ophthalmological drug - along with popular antibiotics like Meropenem and Cefuroxime made way to the new list.
Anti-cancer drugs such as bendamustine hydrochloride, irinotecan HCI trihydrate, lenalidomide, and leuprolide acetate have also been included.
The committee also considered the essentiality of medicines for COVID-19 wherein it decided to not make them a part of the updated list.
“Conditional approval/ emergency use approval was granted to some new medicines for COVID-19, keeping in mind the risk of growing pandemic vs the potential benefit (risk-benefit ratio) on the basis of the available in vitro, non-clinical, and clinical trial data. However, the data of such medicines is still not conclusive and complete from the regulatory perspective,” the health ministry said in a statement.
The National List of Essential Medicines was first formulated in 1996 and it was revised thrice earlier in 2003, 2011, and 2015.
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