Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya has dropped 26 drugs from the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) over cancer-causing concerns.
The drugs that have been dropped include ranitidine – often taken for acidity and other stomach-related ailments and sold under brand names like Rantac, Zinetac, and Aciloc, but removed now over cancer-causing concerns.
In 2020 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalled all ranitidine products (injectable and oral) after the revelation of low-level N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) presence; according to a study published by the Indian Journal of Pharmacology, N-Nitrosamines are associated with stomach, esophagus, nasopharynx, and bladder cancers.
As many as 34 drugs -including some anti-infectives like ivermectin, mupirocin, and nicotine replacement therapy – have been added to the NLEM, taking the total drugs under it to 384.
Endocrine medicines and contraceptives fludrocortisone, ormeloxifene, insulin glargine, and teneliglitin had also been added to the list. Montelukast, which acts on the respiratory tract, and the ophthalmological drug Latanoprost are also on the list.
Cardiovascular medicines Dabigatran and Tenecteplase are also included
The health minister also announced a price cap on commonly-used drugs and said some antibiotics, vaccines, and anti-cancer drugs would now be “more affordable and accessible” in an effort to “reduce patients’ out-of-pocket expenditure”.
“The National List of Essential Medicines is being published today. Based on that… the National Pharma Pricing Authority will set its ceiling price… it is also based on this that it is decided no company increases price (of essential medicines) on its own.”
“It’s a very long process. All the work is done by an independent committee. Interacted with more than 350 experts and 140 consultations,” Mandaviya said on the new NLEM.
Full list of medicines removed from the NLEM 2022:
3. Bleaching Powder
7. Diloxanide furoate
11. Ethinylestradiol(A) + Norethisterone (B)
14. Lamivudine (A) + Nevirapine (B) + Stavudine (C)
18. Pegylated interferon alfa 2a, Pegylated interferon alfa 2b
20. Prilocaine (A) + Lignocaine (B)
24. Stavudine (A) + Lamivudine (B)
26. White Petrolatum