The hearing in the petition challenging the drug price control order had to be postponed till January 15, as the government could not produce an official copy of the latest order, gazetted on December 7, in the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The government counsel said though the order had been finalised and given a gazette number, it had not been printed. It is available on the website. The bench headed by judge G S Singhvi, however, wanted a printed copy instead of a printout from the web. The details of the order have already been published in the media. The government said the order would bring down the prices of hundreds of common drugs, especially essential medicines.
However, the public interest organisation, All India Drug Action Network, stated the new order would in fact increase the price of drugs. The drop in price will affect only some highly priced medicines. So, it wanted the new order to be struck down. Both sides disputed the impact of the new order at the level of chemists.
Since the judges had not read the new order and an official copy could not be produced, the apex court adjourned the hearing for next month. It is reported that prices of 652 commonly used medicines are likely to come down by 15 per cent once the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy comes into effect.