New Delhi, The central government may announce a reduction in the prices of medicines required to treat serious diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Sources say that the government has prepared some proposals for this, but the final decision is yet to be taken regarding the advertisement. Officials said the Center is concerned about the high prices of some important medicines and is interested in controlling them.
According to the report, a source said, ‘Prices will be reduced by up to 70 per cent after the proposal is passed. The Center is also working to revise the National List of Essential Medicines, 2015, to include those medicines which are currently in widespread use.’
The central government is also considering capping high-trade margins on drugs used by patients over the long term. Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has called a meeting with representatives of the pharma industry on July 26 to discuss the final proposal. According to sources, the business margin on some drugs is more than 1000 percent.
Drug price regulator NPPA currently caps the prices of more than 355 drugs. which are part of the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM), and are notified under the Drugs Price Control Order. Business margin on such scheduled drugs is also regulated at 8 percent for wholesalers and 16 percent for retailers.
All manufacturers of these drugs have to sell their products at or below the maximum price. That is, companies that are outside the government’s direct price controls are free to set prices for all other drugs. They can increase the price of such medicines only by 10% per year. Often the business margins on such drugs are very high and affect the patients.
The reality is that more than 60 percent of patients are still forced to pay for drugs themselves. In February 2019, the NPPA limited the trade margin of 41 anticancer drugs to 30 percent on a pilot basis using extraordinary powers under the DPCO in public interest. As a result of this, the MRP of 526 brands of these drugs was reduced by 90 percent.
Apart from this, the government also fixed the prices of coronary stents and knee transplants. In August 2021, the Health Minister told Parliament that the total annual savings due to revision of maximum drug prices under NLEM, price control of anti-diabetic and cardiac drugs, limitation of TMR on knee transplants and anti-cancer drugs is estimated at Rs 12,500 crore.HS1MS