Committee's suggestions not binding in any way, say Govt sources

Meera Mohanty

New Delhi, Nov. 10

The Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers has directed the special committee formed to reach an understanding between industry and Government over drug price control issues to submit its report by November 30.

The 14-member committee, which has 11 industry representatives on it, was directed to arrive at a compromise of sorts since the industry has been openly reluctant to place branded generic drugs under price control.

Government sources, however, indicated that the committee's suggestions were not binding in any way, and that the Government could very well go back to the old list of 354 drug formulations and not wait for the industry to volunteer. The deadline has been imposed after the Minister, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, expressed disappointment over the industry's reluctance to slash prices on 886 generic drugs. "The list is redundant if the new pricing does not benefit patients," said Ministry officials, reacting to media reports suggesting that drugs were not being sold at revised prices.

The industry, however, has made it clear that it was only asked to submit a list of generic drugs, and not branded ones, for the list of 886 drugs.

"We were only asked for a list of generic-generic drugs (i.e., those sold without a brand name)," said Mr D.G. Shah, Secretary-General, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance.

And even this will kick in only a month later, according to him. "The pricing will be applicable to batches manufactured after November 2, 2006. It takes about four weeks for the drugs to be dispatched from the factory and clear quality control, and another six weeks for them to reach the chemist's counter. The drugs with revised prices will not be available until early January."

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 11, 2006)
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