“Union Health Ministry is taking various steps under vision of Hon. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji towards Sabko Dawai, Sasti Dawai. In this direction, 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 boost to cost-effective, quality medicines and contribute towards reduction in Out of Pocket Expenditure on healthcare for the citizens.” This was stated by Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare as he launched National Lists of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2022, here today.
384 drugs have been included in this list with addition of 34 drugs, while 26 from the previous list have been dropped. The medicines have been categorized into 27 therapeutic categories.
Speaking on the occasion, Union 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 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. 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 health care, provide cost-effective health care 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 & Family Welfare. The Government of India has accepted the recommendations of the Committee and adopted the list”, he stated. He also noted that the process of creation of NLEM depends on the feedback backed by scientific sources from stakeholders and inclusion/exclusion principle followed.
While congratulating the stakeholders for the revised NLEM which takes the country forward in the direction of provisioning of affordable healthcare to its citizens, Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar, Union Minister of State stressed on enhancing awareness regarding Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) which “is emerging as a big challenge for our scientists and community and we need to create awareness in the society about AMR”.
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.
The following criteria are followed for inclusion in NLEM:
- be useful in diseases which is a public health problem in India
- be licensed/ approved Drugs Controller General (India) (DCGI)
- have proven efficacy and safety profile based on scientific evidence
- be comparatively cost effective
- be aligned with the current treatment guidelines
- 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 to be included.
- price of total treatment is considered and not the unit price of a medicine
- fixed dose combinations are usually not included
- vaccines as and when are included in Universal Immunization Program (e.g. Rotavirus vaccine).
NLEM 2022 can be accessed here.
Shri Rajesh Bhushan, Union Health Secretary, Dr V. G. Somani, DCGI, Dr Mandeep Kumar Bhandari, Joint Secretary, Dr Y K Gupta, Vice Chairman SNCM and other senior officials of the Ministry were present at the launch.