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

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Drug Price Control in India

An Ongoing Debate

Price control of life-saving essential medicines is the need of the hour, but the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority has allowed a hike of 10% in nearly 800 drugs and devices listed under the National List of Essential Medicines from 1 April 2022 because of the rising input costs. Prices of scheduled drugs are allowed an increase each year acc­ording to the wholesale price index. Input costs are rising primarily because India is heavily dependent on China for drug imports.

In March 2021 fiscal, India’s overall imports of bulk drugs and drug intermediates amounted to $3.84 billion. Of these imports, nearly 68% of the bulk drugs and intermediates are imported from China (Sukumar 2021). During the height of the pandemic in India, raw materials for many of the COVID-19 drugs like Ivermectin, whose ingredients are imported from China, saw a huge rise in prices. The Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association (IDMA 2021) has stated that the rising transportation and packaging ­material costs are also contributing to the rise in input costs. In res­ponse to the pandemic, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) reduced the price of antiviral drug Remdesivir, but the prices of several other antiviral drugs used in the treatment of COVID-19 were sold at exorbitant rates. The ingredients for even common antibiotics like Paracetamol rose from 30% to 40% (McCarthy 2021).

The Government of India needs to navigate several problem areas in its drug policy for effective price control of life-saving essential medicines. How can India best implement price control on them and achieve intended consequences of making them affordable and accessible for all?

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Updated On : 12th Dec, 2022
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