At present, there are 6,606 PMBJK outlets, which sell subsidised generic medicines across the country
The government will add around 4,000 more Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras (PMBJK), the public outlets offering medicines at subsidised prices, over the next five years.
“…with a vision to provide quality medicines at affordable rates for the common man, especially the poor, the government has set a target to increase the number of PMBJK to 10,500 by March 2025,” said a statement from the Union ministry of chemicals and fertilisers.
At present, there are 6,606 PMBJK outlets, which sell subsidised generic medicines across the country.
The proposed new PMBJK outlets will cover all the 736 districts in the country, making affordable medicines accessible to everyone.
“This will ensure easy reach of affordable medicine to the public in every nook and corner of the country,” the statement added.
The government is putting an expansion plan in place through effective information technology (IT)-enabled logistics and supply chain management for ensuring real-time distribution of medicines at all the outlets in a bid to avoid a scarcity of stocks.
Such a crisis had occurred during the 68-day nationwide lockdown restrictions that were enforced from March 25 in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.
“Between March and June, PMBJK had faced many challenges regarding shortage of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and other raw materials of pharmaceuticals, disturbance in supply of medicines to the centres from central and regional warehouses due to non-availability of vehicles for transportation, etc. Keeping this in view, the expansion plan is being chalked out,” the ministry said.
At present, PMBJK stocks are stored in four warehouses that are located in Gurugram, Chennai, Bengaluru and Guwahati. Plans are afoot to open two more warehouses in western and central India.
The government is also considering the appointment of distributors in states and union territories (UTs) in a bid to strengthen the supply chain system.
The scheme has been approved with a budget of Rs 490 crore between 2020-21 and 2024- 25.
“Despite the Covid-19-induced lockdown restrictions and testing times because of the pandemic, PMBJK achieved appreciable sales turnover of Rs 146.59 crore in the first quarter of 2020-21, as compared to Rs 75.48 crore achieved in the same year-ago period. Between July and September 15, the stores added sales of Rs 109.43 crore. The total sale up to September 15 is Rs 256.02 crore. It has drastically brought down the prices of quality medicines and making medicines available within the reach of large section of population, especially the poor,” the ministry added.