Policy finalisation may be delayed

Ambarish Mukherjee

Hard to swallow


likely to further delay drug policy


moots district drug banks

SC verdict

adds more complexities

New Delhi, Oct. 5

The pharmaceutical industry is totally opposed to proposals that call for cost-based pricing of drugs, sharing of production cost data and equipping the future regulator the National Pharma Pricing Authority, with

suo motu

powers to bring drugs outside the National List of Essential Medicines under its control.

This is expected to further delay the finalisation of the new drug policy.

The industry is also questioning the very move to control prices, Ministry sources said, adding that the industry instead now proposed incentives such as free medicines for district drug banks and so on.

The high-level, 14-member Government-industry joint committee set up by the Ministry of Chemicals and Petrochemicals is unable to take unanimous decisions on these issues, Ministry sources said. Apart from the difficulties with cost-based pricing, adding further complexities to the entire issue is the interpretation of the Supreme Court judgment based on which the Government had initiated the move to bring a majority of the drugs under price control, Ministry sources said.

The Ministry had initiated the move to bring essential medicines under price control following an SC verdict that said that essential medicines "should not be kept outside control".

Against this, the industry has placed a different legal interpretation by a former Chief Justice of India. Consequently, the whole issue has failed to make significant headway, sources said.

The 14-member panel has 11 industry representatives and three Government members with the Secretary in the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals chairing the meetings.

The Secretary will return next week, after which the next meeting would be convened to deliberate further on the issue.

The department may also seek the Law Ministry's views on this, sources said.

Related Stories:
New drug policy in place, but relief to consumers sometime away
Mixed reaction to drug pricing policy
Inter-Ministerial turf war may delay pharma policy
Drug prices may come down more than 50 pc

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 6, 2006)
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