SC adjourns drug pricing case till Dec 12

Last Updated: Tue, Nov 27, 2012 19:32 hrs

The Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) is likely to notify the new National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy (NPPP) in around two weeks, it informed the Supreme Court (SC) today. The apex court, which had been putting pressure on the government to hasten the revamp, pending since 2003, adjourned the matter till December 12.

“We are yet to receive the minutes of the Cabinet meeting (on the change), which is expected this week. After that, we will take one more week to notify the policy,” a senior official in DoP said.

Last week, the Cabinet approved NPPP, bringing 348 essential medicine formulations under price control. Though the government is yet to detail the policy, approved on November 22, sources said the Cabinet had endorsed the recommendations made by a Group of Ministers (GoM), headed by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar. On November 21, a day before the Cabinet meet, the GoM met Finance Minister P Chidambaram, present to address concerns raised by the latter’s ministry on the pricing mechanism suggested by the GoM earlier.

Following this, the GoM made some key changes to its earlier recommendations and tabled the proposal in the Cabinet the next day, to meet the SC deadline.

According to the new policy, as understood from sources, the government would cap the prices of 348 essential medicines based on the arithmetic average of all drugs in a particular segment with more than one per cent market share. It would also prevent pharmaceutical companies from dodging the price regulation, as any company changing the composition in a formulation of drugs under price control would have to get separate price approval from the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority.

The policy notification is expected to give these details and how it would be implemented. The DoP official said the new policy would come into effect soon after the notification. The government will also have to revise the Drugs Price Control Order, 1995.

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