Replicating Tamil Nadu’s Drug Procurement Model

Prabal Vikram Singh et al

September 29, 2012 vol xlviI no 39  EPW Economic & Political Weekly

Most states are attempting to copy the Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation’s model of centralised tendering and purchase of drugs.

A study of the Kerala Medical Services Corporation and Odisha’s State Drug Management Unit shows that imitating the original model without factoring in the local context and building up the processes does not lead to success. While Kerala has adapted the Tamil Nadu model and even added innovations, Odisha’s experiment has had dismal results.

Based on our observations across the different states, we opine that adaptation of the TNMSC model should come with a detailed and objective analysis of the existing state conditions and its ability (monetary and administrative) to create new structures.

The head of the procurement cell plays a crucial role in managing and running the system smoothly, which implies immense political support and authority. Adopting the model without the necessary prerequisites would result in a state spending more money without necessarily improving outcomes.

This is not to say that the existing structures were functioning better, it is only a prompter towards doing and un doing several things in the current adoption to fi t into the state contexts. Yet, it is important to remember that the TNMSC has given the states something to think about and an opportunity to experiment with their procurement models while it is too early to comment on the success of the evolved model.

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