With addition of 34 new drugs, number of essential medicines goes to 384

A total of 384 drugs have been included in the National Lists of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2022, which was released by the Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya here on Tuesday. The list has got the addition of 34 new drugs, while 26 from the previous list have been dropped. The medicines have been categorized into 27 therapeutic categories.

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 WHO EML 2021.

“Union Health Ministry is taking various steps under the vision of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji towards ‘Sabko Dawai, Sasti Dawai’. In this direction, the National List of Essential Medicines (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 reduction in out of pocket expenditure on healthcare for the citizens,” said Mandaviya while launching the list.

Speaking on the occasion, Health Minister stated that the ‘essential medicines’ are those that satisfy the priority health care needs, based on efficacy, safety, quality and total cost of the treatment. 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 utilisation of healthcare resources and budget; drug procurement policies, health insurance; improving prescribing habits; medical education and training for UG/PG; and drafting pharmaceutical policies. In NLEM, the medicines are categorized based on level of healthcare system as: P- Primary; S- Secondary and T- Tertiary.

He elaborated that the concept is based on the premise that a limited list of carefully selected medicines will improve quality of healthcare, provide cost-effective healthcare and better management of medicines. He added that the NLEM is a dynamic document and is revised on a regular basis considering the changing public health priorities as well as advancement in pharmaceutical knowledge. The National List of Essential Medicines was first formulated in 1996 and it was revised thrice earlier in 2003, 2011 and 2015.

“The independent Standing National Committee on Medicines (SNCM) was constituted by Union Health Ministry in 2018. The Committee after detailed consultation with experts and stakeholders has revised the NLEM, 2015 and submitted its report on NLEM, 2022 to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The Government of India has accepted the recommendations of the Committee and adopted the list,” he stated.

The drugs which are included in the list needs to be useful in diseases which is a public health problem in India, be licensed/approved Drugs Controller General (India) (DCGI) and have proven efficacy and safety profile based on scientific evidence.

The drug must be recommended under National Health Programs of India (e.g. Ivermectin part of Accelerated Plan for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis 2018). When more than one medicine are available from the same therapeutic class, one prototype/medically best suited medicine of that class are included in the list. For the inclusion in the list, the price of total treatment is considered and not the unit price of a medicine.

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