25 more drugs come under price control- Are we missing out out on an integrated approach?

NEW DELHI: There’s good news for patients. Drug pricing regulator NPPA announced cap on prices of over 25 drugs, including painkillers and antibiotics, which will lead to reduction in their costs over the next few weeks. 

The price regulator in a notification issued on December 10, fixed prices of formulations which join a list of 348 essential medicines that were placed under price control. The new drugs on which caps were issued include commonly-used antibiotics and painkillers, as well as medicines used for treating cancer and skin disorders.

The NPPA notification mentions a total of 52 drugs, including those with specific dosage strengths which were till now not under the purview. The latest addition brings the total market size of medicines under price control to nearly Rs 125 crore, according to market research firm AIOCD AWACS. The wide-ranging price cuts will impact both domestic and foreign companies. 

The NPPA notification, an industry expert explained, also includes price changes which will be extended on dosage strengths of molecules which were till now not under price control. It said it has fixed/revised the prices in respect of 52 formulation packs — both ceiling and retail price packs under DPCO, 2013. Price caps on some of these drugs only apply to specific companies, it added 

Earlier efforts by the NPPA to bring down prices of essential drugs for diseases like cancer, have been strongly opposed. In July, the NPPA in a rare invocation of the lesser-used provision had fixed prices of 50 antidiabetic and cardiovascular medicines. This was the first time that the government had brought drugs, outside the national list of essential medicines, under price control. 

The move had triggered of a series of protests and lawsuits from the industry against the drug pricing regulator, as they feared more such action. 

Finally, in September this year the government had withdrawn certain powers of the drug pricing regulator that allowed it to cap prices of widely-prescribed anti-diabetes, cancer, HIV, tuberculosis and cardiac medicines. 

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