Private pharmaceutical companies will soon be part of the central government’s initiative to make quality medicines available at affordable prices. The department of pharmaceuticals (DoP) has received 76 applications from domestic drug makers who are interested in supplying generic medicines at a lower price to the generic drug stores (Jan Aushadhi Stores) recently being set up by the government in several states. At present, only pharma public sector undertakings (PSUs) are supplying medicines to these stores. “We asked for expression of interest from private companies. We have received 76 applications. It is important to ensure that the medicines available in these stores are quality medicines. Therefore, any company supplying medicines have to good manufacturing practices (GMP) compliant and fulfil the eligibility criterion set by the department,” DoP secretary Ashok Kumar said. The industry have been complaining for sometime that instead of a short supply of medicines in these generic stores, the government is not allowing them to supply medicines. According to a DoP official, the applications are likely to be cleared in next two weeks. The government’s initiative to open generic drug stores is in line with UPA’s Common Minimum Programme agenda to provide affordable medicines to all. The government plans to promote these stores through prescriptions in government hospitals. “We will soon be organising a meeting of representatives of the health departments of various state governments to form a consensus over the issue of prescription of unbranded generic medicines in all government hospitals,” minister of chemicals and fertilisers Ram Vilas Paswan said during the inauguration of generic drug store at Shastriya Bhawan in Delhi. The government plans to launch 40 such stores by March in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh. At a time when the prices of medicines are increasingly becoming out of the reach of poorer sections of the society, the Jan Aushadhi stores will prove to be a boon to them as by establishing these generic stores in each district, preferably in the premises of the district hospitals, the government wanted to ensure affordable medicines to the poor people.