India’s health ministry has decided to constitute a committee for preparing guidelines for the revision of the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) and include medical devices, disposables and consumables in the list.
The Standing National Committee on Medicines (SNCM) will provide the terms of reference to the committee to prepare detailed guidelines and procedures for revision of NLEM and suggest additions and deletions to the list. It will also suggest Revision of NLEM 2-15, Inclusion of Medical Devices, Medical Disposables, Medical Consumables and other products. Presently, among the devices, only cardiac stents are included in the NLEM.
NLEM was last revised in 2015, expanding it to 384 drugs from the then existing 348, including drugs for critical illnesses like cancer, HIV and diabetes.
The new committee will be headed by the director general, ICMR. It will have representations from various ministries and organizations, including those of health, chemicals and fertilisers, AYUSH, National Institute of Malaria Research, Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme, and other research bodies like NIPER. It will also include the Drugs Controller General and state health secretaries. The three-year committee will update the list periodically.