Key medicines in India to become costlier

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Key medicines in India to become costlier
Key medicines in India to become costlier

New Delhi : India's drug pricing regulator has given green signal to increase the maximum retail price of at least 21 drugs by up to 50 per cent.

For the first time in history, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) — which is known to slash prices of essential and life-saving medicines — has increased the prices in public interest to prevent patients opting for costlier alternatives in the face of shortage of these drugs. 

Most of the above drugs are used for first line treatment and are a part of regular household.

The decision was taken after a meeting of NPPA officials on December 9. It will be applied to formulations like the BCG vaccine for tuberculosis, vitamin C, antibiotics like metronidazole and benzylpenicillin, anti-malarial drug chloroquine and leprosy medication dapsone.

An Indian Express report in July had claimed that the authorities are discussing the proposal to increase the prices of the drugs.

“The Authority noted that the twenty one scheduled formulations being considered for upward price revision under para 19 of DPCO (Drug Price Control Order) 2013 are low priced drugs and have been under repeated price control. Most of these drugs are used as first line of treatment and are crucial to the public health program of the country. Many companies have applied for discontinuation of the product on account of unviability,” the minutes of a meeting of the authority held on December 9 said.

Noting that the mandate of NPPA is to ensure availability of drugs at affordable prices, the minutes said “while ensuring affordability, access cannot be jeopardised and the life saving essential drugs must remain available to the general public at all times. Therefore, the Authority is of the considered view that unviability of these formulations should not lead to a situation, where these drugs become unavailable in the market and the public is forced to switch to costly alternatives”.