New Delhi: The government is planning to make changes to the Central committee that issues fixes drug prices after protests from the pharmaceutical industry over current regulations.

Officials aware of the matter said the Centre is planning to restructure the committee responsible for issuing Drug Price Control Orders, which enable the government to declare a ceiling price for essential and life-saving medicines.

According to the officials cited above, the planned move comes after some pharma associations expressed their dissatisfaction over existing pricing regulations. 

The current committee comprises three core members—Secretary of the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Chairman of the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) and the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).

“There have been a few concerns about the DPCO regarding the price mechanism. Pharma companies and associations have expressed dissatisfaction over it. In the month of July, a meeting is expected to be called where the pharma bodies will also be invited and their opinion will also be sought. 

Focus is to make DPCO stronger and more effective and then consider amendments

Accordingly, the changes will be made. As of now, the focus is to make the DPCO more strong and more effective and then consider of bringing amendments in the relevant Act which is a decade old now,” said an official.

Also Read: Centre fixes price of drugs for diabetes, hypertension, multivitamins

The primary task of the committee is to strike a balance between pricing and availability of essential medicines, while offering incentives to the industry to foster growth and exports. Prices of drugs in India are regulated as per provisions of Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 2013, by the NPPA, under the aegis of the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), that fixes the ceiling price of scheduled medicines. It also fixes the retail price of ‘new drugs’ for existing manufacturers of scheduled formulations.

“The committee has always been concerned about ensuring that drug pricing remains at stable position so that it does not affect the consumers. In the past couple of months, there have been some revisions in the pricing and the committee keeps on holding meetings before making such announcements. If there is a requirement of expansion of the committee that will happen,” stated another official.

Also Read: Heart disease, diabetes drugs to cost less as govt cuts essential medicine prices

The DPCO lists 680 scheduled drug formulations spread across 27 therapeutic groups. It states that while fixing the ceiling price of scheduled formulations and retail price of new drugs, 16% of price to retailer as a margin to retailer shall be allowed. 

Under the DPCO, drug manufacturers can have retail margin of 6 to 10% for branded medicines and 8 to 15% for generic medicines. But the manufacturer is not given any obligations regarding trade margins.

The objective of the DPCO is to ensure availability of essential and life-saving and prophylactic medicines of good quality at reasonable prices. It aims to promote rational use of drugs.

An email sent to the secretary and information officer, DoP, remained unanswered till print time.

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Published: 26 Jun 2024, 05:02 PM IST