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Buprenorphine Price Rise: Punjab Health Minister Offers To Mediate

CHANDIGARH: With a hike in buprenorphine prices putting an additional burden of Rs 15 crore on the cashstrapped Punjab government, state health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu has offered to act as a negotiator between the company supplying the medicine and the firm from which it procures salts for the medicine.

Increase in prices of salts has been cited as the reason by the company supplying buprenorphine for hiking the rate of the medicine. The minister has told the company that they would seek Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh’s help, if needed, to persuade the company supplying the salts to reduce its prices.

The detoxification medicine, which the government dispenses to substance-abuse patients free of cost, was earlier supplied at Rs 3.8 per tablet. It has now been increased to Rs 6.84 per tablet. The annual demand of the medicine is about six crore tablets and the price difference after the hike is Rs 15 crore.

The minister and officials of the Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC) held a meeting with representatives of the company on Saturday. During the hour-long discussion, Sidhu tried to convince the company to supply medicine at old rates and support the government as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR).

A report released by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) last year says over 60% of funds spent by business houses under CSR are used on education and healthcare. “I have offered to act as a negotiator between the two firms to bring down the price of medicine. CM’s help will be taken if possible. Every effort will be made to buy the medicine at the old price,” said Sidhu.

To safeguard patients against fleecing and to break the monopoly of private deaddiction centres, the state government last year started dispensing take-home doses of buprenorphine and naloxone from its outpatient opioid assisted treatment (OOAT) clinics, thus pushing demand for detoxification medicines. The decision was aimed at tackling the problem of non-availability of take-home dose of the medicine at government centres, which was a main reason for patients stopping treatment.-Times Of India  

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