Union Health Ministry launches National Lists of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2022

Union Health Ministry

Under the guidance of Hon. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, Union Health Ministry is taking various steps towards ‘Sabko Dawai, Sasti Dawai’. “National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) plays a vital role in providing accessibility of affordable quality medicines at all levels of healthcare. This will give a boost to cost-effective, quality medicines and contribute towards a reduction in Out of Pocket Expenditure on healthcare for the citizens”, stated 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 categorised into 27 therapeutic categories.

Speaking on the occasion, Union Health Minister stated that the “essential medicines” are those that fulfill the priority health care needs, based on the efficacy, safety, quality, and total cost of the treatment. The primary purpose of NLEM is to stimulate the rational use of medicines considering the three important aspects, namely cost, safety, and efficacy. It also helps in the optimum utilisation of healthcare resources and budget; drug procurement policies, health insurance, improving prescribing habits, medical education and training for UG/PG, and drafting pharmaceutical policies. The medicines are categorised based on the healthcare system level as- P- Primary; S- Secondary, and T- Tertiary, in NLEM.

He further elaborated that the concept is based on the premise that a limited list of carefully selected medicines will enhance the quality of healthcare, provide cost-effective healthcare, and better management of medicines. Adding to that, he stated, that NLEM is a dynamic document and is revised regularly considering the changing public health priorities as well as advancements in pharmaceutical knowledge.

“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.” He also noted that the process of creation of NLEM depends on the feedback backed by scientific sources from stakeholders and the inclusion/exclusion principle followed.

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” while congratulating the stakeholders for the revised NLEM which takes the country forward in the direction of provisioning of affordable healthcare to its citizens.

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
  • Aligning with 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 is available from the same therapeutic class, one prototype/ medically best-suited class medicine is to be included.
  • The price of 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).


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