Tuesday, November 22, 2011

MNCs move SC over drug price control

Mumbai: Till now, pharma companies, opposing price control, have been trying to make their voices heard in the corridors of power. With the courts recently stepping in to bring essential medicines under a price control regime, multinational-led industry body OPPI (Organization of Pharmaceutical Producers of India) has moved the Supreme Court seeking to be heard on the drug pricing issue.
OPPI through an application seeking “impleadment” in the ongoing public interest litigation on the drug pricing issue in the Supreme Court, wants to be a formal party in the case. Sources said that the OPPI filed the application to engage with the government “more actively’’, and wanted to ensure that its case is heard.
The PIL was filed by health groups led by All India Drug Action Network, seeking essential drugs to be regulated under a price control regime in 2003. The “impleadment” application was filed on November 12, and later admitted by the court. “The OPPI moved the Supreme Court to get impleaded as a party in the ongoing PIL because the drug pricing issue affects our industry’s ability to sustainably provide medicines—both innovative and generic—to the population in India, and, hence will have an effect on public health and access to medicines, as well as the economic development of the pharma industry,” OPPI president Ranjit Shahani.
At present, 74 bulk drugs and their formulations (around 1,500) are included in the existing DPCO (Drug Prices Control Order, 1995), which covers 20% of the market. Recently, the department of pharmaceuticals formulated a draft policy on all 348 essential medicines (National list of essential medicines) whose prices would be controlled through amarket-based pricing mechanism. The draft policy covers 60% of the over Rs 60,000 crore market, and will be finalized after comments from all the stakeholders have been received.
The Supreme Court had earlier expressed concern over the dwindling list of medicines under price control, and sought the government’s response in bringing essential drugs under a price control regime.
Earlier this year, the ministry of health revised the NLEM totalling 348 medicines which cover 489 formulations, including 16 fixed dose combinations. These drugs are considered to be adequate to meet the common contemporary health needs of the general population of the country, the health ministry has said.

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