384 Drugs Included in National Lists of Essential Medicines

Dr Mansukh Mandaviya launches National Lists of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2022, 34 new drugs added in the list.

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Union Health Ministry is taking various steps under the vision of Hon. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi towards Sabko Dawai, Sasti Dawai. In this direction, the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) plays a vital role in ensuring the accessibility of affordable quality medicines at all levels of healthcare. This will boost cost-effective, quality medicines and contribute towards a 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 the National Lists of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2022.

384 drugs have been included in this list with the addition of 34 drugs, while 26 from the previous list have been dropped. The medicines have been categorized into 27 therapeutic categories.

Speaking on occasion, Union Health Minister stated that the “essential medicines” 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 the rational use of medicines considering the three important aspects, i.e., cost, safety and efficacy. It also helps optimum 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 the level of the 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 the quality of health care, provide cost-effective health care and provide better management of medicines. He added that the NLEM is a dynamic document and is revised regularly considering the changing public health priorities and advancement in pharmaceutical knowledge. The National List of Essential Medicines was first formulated in 1996 and revised thrice earlier in 2003, 2011, and 2015.

“Union Health Ministry constituted the independent Standing National Committee on Medicines (SNCM) in 2018. After a detailed consultation with experts and stakeholders, the Committee 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 creation process of NLEM depends on the feedback backed by scientific sources from stakeholders and the inclusion/exclusion principle followed.

While congratulating the stakeholders for the revised NLEM, which takes the country forward in the direction of provisioning affordable healthcare to its citizens, Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar, Union Minister of State, stressed 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”.

NLEM 2022 has been revised after constant consultation with stakeholders from academia, industrialists and public policy experts, and crucial documents like WHO EML 2021.

The following criteria are followed for inclusion in NLEM:

  1. be useful in diseases which is a public health problem in India
  2. be licensed/ approved Drugs Controller General (India) (DCGI)
  3. have proven efficacy and safety profile based on scientific evidence
  4. be comparatively cost-effective
  5. be aligned with the current treatment guidelines
  6. recommended under the National Health Programs of India. (e.g. Ivermectin part of Accelerated Plan for Elimination of  Lymphatic Filariasis 2018).
  7. When more than one medicine is available from the same therapeutic class, one prototype/ medically best-suited medicine of that class is to be included.
  8. price of total treatment is considered, and not the unit price of a medicine
  9. fixed dose combinations are usually not included
  10. Vaccines as and when are included in Universal Immunization Program (e.g. Rotavirus vaccine).

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.

NLEM 2022 can be accessed here: