On the eve of World aids Day (December 1), Union health minister Sushma Swaraj announced that aids medicine would be made available through the national aids control programme from next year. The plan hinges crucially on an agreement with the Indian generic drug industry to supply medicines cheap. Indeed, companies have sought assurances on sales volumes and tax concessions on certain imports used to make the drugs. "It will be the focus of the ministry's pre-budget exercise and if the finance minister and Planning Commission agree, we hope to make medicine available from April 1, 2004," Swaraj said.
A spokesperson for New Delhi-based Ranbaxy Laboratories said if the government slashed various taxes, the cost of drugs could fall to Rs 15.90, the cheapest in the world.
Swaraj's announcement also signals a major shift in the country's aids policy -- from prevention to anti-retroviral drug therapy. "The total medicine cost would be approximately Rs 113 crore and we plan to arrange for the money from our internal resources. Once the programme starts, donor agencies may chip in," the minister said. The programme is to be launched in six high-prevalent states.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.