Top selling drugs brands for depression, hypertension, HIV, pneumonia and pain may shortly become less expensive. The drug cost regulator authority National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) is set to bring in a minimum of 100 new medicines under price control to consist of combos, dosages and strengths that are generally recommended by physicians and sold by pharmacy stores.
For example, presently only one strength of Paracetamol is within price control, while NPPA has recommended to cap costs of all brands of the drugs as outlined in the Indian Pharmacopeia. In the same way, in the case of Nelfinavir and Ritonavir, generally used antiretrovirals in therapy of HIV, the authority plans to fix costs of tablets along with capsules.
The move is important due to the fact this is the 2nd time NPPA has tried to reduce prices of medicines that are exterior the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM), 2011. In May, the NPPA had invoked a public interest clause to decrease costs of 108 drugs. On the other hand, it had to withdraw the recommendations after organizations approached court and the law ministry opined that making use of the clause may be out of framework.
However, official sources say, this time there is political agreement on the problem, primarily ahead of forthcoming elections in some states.
Presently, the government controls costs of only 348 drug formulations or 652 packs as outlined in the NLEM. On the other hand, the list consists of only particular dosages, strengths and combos of drug formulation. The authority is of the view that this loophole does not make sure cost regulation of all life saving and essential medicines of mass intake.
The recent move of NPPA is targeted at broadening the span of price control to consist of medicines dosages, strengths and combos which are generally used and have great market share in terms of revenue.
In past, the pricing regulator performed a comprehensive study that unveiled existence of certain “anomalies or discrepancies” in specification or information in the NLEM 2011. Following the results of the research performed across the nation, the NPPA has recommended rectification in the NLEM.
The move has produced a stir among pharmaceutical organizations who are worried about stressed margins along with instability promoted via such periodic price modifications. “Mass usage is not a criterion for NLEM. It would be suitable that the choice of medicines is left to the core committee of professionals according to the established standards. The function of the NPPA is to put into practice the policy in letter and spirit and not develop misunderstandings leading to uncertainty,” says D G Shah, secretary general, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance.
With respect to a senior official in the division of pharma, the idea for modifications in the list of essential medicines has been delivered to the ministry of health and family welfare which has the supreme authority to modify the same. Apart from, NPPA has also sought responses from other stakeholders like as patient groups and drug companies.