The Supreme Court hearing on the final avatar of the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy will now take place next year.
At the Supreme Court on Wednesday, the hearing was rescheduled for the second week of January, as the Government had not filed the official gazette notification of the drug policy, a source familiar with the development said.
The final version of the NPPP had received the approval of the Cabinet and was to be placed before the Supreme Court today, after it had been notified by the Government.
Discussion on the drug policy had gained traction under the watch of the Supreme Court, after a public interest litigation was filed at the apex court by the All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN). It was in response to AIDAN’s petition that the Supreme Court, in 2003, directed the Government to draw up a policy to keep essential medicines affordable.
The proposed policy seeks to cap ceiling prices on all 348 drugs mentioned in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) at the average of medicines with one per cent market-share in a said category. All imported drugs under the NLEM will also come under price control.
Industry representatives, though happy that the Government is going with the market-based formula, are worried that the price-control yardstick could affect the average industry profitability by 25 per cent.
Medicine prices are expected to dip across segments like anti-infectives, antibiotics, diabetes and cardio-vascular drugs, to name just a few.
Public-health workers, though, are unhappy that the Government did not go with the cost-of-production based formula for price control and will watch for the final contours of the policy to be submitted early next year, following which they will submit their response to the apex court.