Sanitary pads and generic medicines have been out of stock at Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Kendras for the last 2 months. Regular consumers complain of delays in procuring the medicines.
Nearly 60% of the 84 Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Pariyojna (PMBJP) kendras in Bengaluru (rural and urban) do not have stocks of Suvidha sanitary napkins. Regular customers say they have been unable to buy them for the last few months. Due to this, women are forced to use cotton cloths on their menstrual days or to buy more expensive ones in the market.
Sumitra, an engineering student said, “I come here regularly to buy medicines as they are at subsidized rates here, what I found is there is no sanitary napkin from last 3 months in any of these stores generally I went to 2-3 stores in this area but it was not available anywhere.”
Apart from the sanitary napkins, generic medicines for treating blood pressure and diabetes are not frequently available at these stores.
Ram Gopal, a retired railway superintendent said, “I am a patient of diabetes and high BP. These medicines are usually out of stock in the stores, the stores must ensure regular supply as it causes inconvenience.”
The Central government revised the price of sanitary pads from Rs.2.5 to re. 1, in August. In the open market a packet costs Rs. 28. Thus, women prefer to buy these ‘Suvidha’ pads from the stores. Some store owners say they are unable to handle the high demand for the subsidized pads.
Chandra Shekhar, PMBJP store owner at Vijaynagar said, “We have been selling the old Rs.10 packets of sanitary pad, but after it got out of stock the revised rated packets are yet not distributed since last 1 month, as we are told there is some delay in the manufacturing.”
As the Jan Aushadhi Kendras are a Central government scheme, the Department of Pharmaceutical, Government of India provides the stock in all the states.
Mahaveer Drugs Plus is the pharmaceutical distributor for Bengaluru in the state of Karnataka.
Senior marketing officer of Mahaveer Drugs Plus, Bharat Bhushan stated, “The ‘SUVIDHA’ sanitary pad run out of stock very soon as it is highly demanded. We distribute it to the stores and they are further distributed to the NGO working on menstrual hygiene. The basic issue with the deficiency of sanitary pads now is, there is delay in the manufacturing process as the prices are revised the packets are re-produced and retailed. When the central pharmacy will provide the stocks to the states only then the stores could be further distributed. For the accessible and efficient usage of pads the store sells 5 packets at a time to a customer.”
The availability of subsidized medicines and sanitary napkins is vital to those who cannot afford commercial healthcare. The BPPI (Bureau of Pharma PSUs in India) is continuing their efforts to persuade doctors to prescribe only generic medicines in order to benefit more people.