Understanding Public Drug Procurement in India: A Comparative Qualitative Study of Five Indian States (BMJ Open 2013;3:e001987 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001987)
(2013; 12 pages)


Objective: To perform an initial qualitative comparison of the different procurement models in India to frame questions for future research in this area; to capture the finer differences between the state models through 53 process and price parameters to determine their functional efficiencies.

Design: Qualitative analysis is performed for the study. Five states: Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Odisha, Punjab and Maharashtra were chosen to ensure heterogeneity in a number of factors such as procurement type (centralised, decentralised or mixed); autonomy of the procurement organisation; state of public health infrastructure; geography and availability of data through Right to Information Act (RTI). Data on procurement processes were collected through key informant analysis by way of semistructured interviews with leadership teams of procuring organisations. These process data were validated through interviews with field staff (stakeholders of district hospitals, taluk hospitals, community health centres and primary health centres) in each state. A total of 30 actors were interviewed in all five states. The data collected are analysed against 52 process and price parameters to determine the functional efficiency of the model. Results: The analysis indicated that autonomous procurement organisations were more efficient in relation to payments to suppliers, had relatively lower drug procurement prices and managed their inventory more scientifically.

Conclusions: The authors highlight critical success factors that significantly influence the outcome of any procurement model. In a way, this study raises more questions and seeks the need for further research in this arena to aid policy makers.

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