Jaipur: Almost a year ago, Lifeline, a chain of medical stores in government hospitals that sold medicines at subsidised rates, was indeed the lifeline for many. But this ‘Lifeline’, which could have been a boon, has invited sharp criticism from all quarters.
Chief minister free medicine scheme that came into effect a year ago, is also in line of fire. The condemnation for retailing medicines through Lifeline stores in Rajasthan further escalated with SMS Hospital’s decision to sell around 2,000 types of medicines through Lifeline windows.
Amid all criticism, SMS might be thinking of retracting its plans, but that hasn’t stopped activists from protesting against Lifeline stores.
Many believe with the implementation of free drug scheme, the existence of Lifeline stores is redundant. There are over 50 lifeline stores in state in medical colleges and district hospitals. “But there is no need for any other store after implementation of free drug scheme,” Dr Narendra Gupta of Prayas, an NGO said.
Dr Gupta and other activists had recently met health minister AA Khan to voice reservations against SMS Hospital’s plan of procuring oral medicines for its Lifeline stores.
SMS alone has six such stores, while there are several others in district hospitals across state. Dr Gupta questions, “Under the free medicine scheme, there is a provision to buy medicine from outside if it is unavailable in hospitals. Where is the need of Lifeline stores?” “There might be some use of Lifeline stores in medical college hospitals but in district hospitals there is absolutely no need,” he said.
Defending Lifeline shops, SMS Hospital MS Dr Virendra Singh said, “Procurement of 2,000 oral medicines to sell in Lifeline stores is under consideration but Lifeline stores help patients get drug cheaper.”