A Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Union Agriculture Minister Sharad finally approved the final pharma pricing policy for bringing essential medicines under the government’s price control regime.
The new market-based drugs pricing policy will bring 348 essential medicines under the strict price control of the government.
The GoM decided to take a weighted average of medicines’ prices from all brands that have 1 per cent of market share to settle on the price of a specific medicine. The group rejected the previous proposal that would take a weighted average of any medicine’s top three brands. The rejected the previous proposal after a strong opposition from the health ministry, which believed that as top three brands of any medicine were also the most expensive ones, determing price on their basis would hike the price of the drug.
But, the new pricing policy for essential medicines failed to satisfy public health activists who have been fighting for a cost-based approach to determine prices.
Disapproving the newly approved policy, All India Drug Action Network’s S Srinivasan said, “It is still tilted heavily in favour of the industry. The public procurement of many drugs is made in Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan at much less price than the maximum retail price.”
Some activists argued that bringing 348 medicines under the price control policy would encourage doctors to prescribe drugs that fall outside the government’s price control regime.
Currently, the government’s National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) controls formulations and prices of just 74 bulk medicines.