ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Drug Price Control

While the finance minister has announced a cut in the number of drugs under the Drug Price Control Order, such a dilution has not been recommended by the report of the government appointed committee on drug pricing.

The Budget 2001-02 has been hailed as positively brilliant and the industry has been euphoric. During the budget speech, the finance minister promised the pharmaceutical industry a cut in the number of drugs under the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO). Currently the DPCO covers 74 drugs and their formulations. These constitute, according to trade journals, some 35 per cent of all the pharmaceutical products marketed in the country. The industry would like this to become 20 per cent, if not zero. Another area where the industry wants action is with regard to the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), which is considered a bureaucratic and time wasting body – an impression, not quite correct. The NPPA is one of the few government bodies daring to take on industry majors and reduce prices, the most recent being a much needed reduction in the prices of ranitidine and penicillins.

Apart from questions of the propriety of the finance minister announcing in his budget speech a cut in the number of drugs under the DPCO (one would have thought it was the jurisdiction of the ministry of chemicals and petrochemicals, the relevant ministry in this case, to monitor the DPCO), it further shows the government’s left hand not knowing, or wanting to know, what the right hand does. A little more than a year back, the government appointed two committees related to the pharmaceutical industry: one on price control and the other on R and D. Both committees are understood to have submitted their reports, the one on pricing was submitted around late 1999 and the report has since been available on the web (www.pharmabiz.com).

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