Key drugs to cost 4% more

Key drugs to cost 4% more
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Highlights

Essential drugs, including insulin, hepatitis injection, anti-diabetes drugs, antibiotics and some cancer medicines have become costlier by 3.8 per cent. The hike, which came into effect from April 1, could be significant as some of these drugs are already expensive. The government has allowed pharmaceutical firms to raise prices of 509 formulation packs.

From condoms to cancer drugs, pharma cos to hike prices

New Delhi: Essential drugs, including insulin, hepatitis injection, anti-diabetes drugs, antibiotics and some cancer medicines have become costlier by 3.8 per cent. The hike, which came into effect from April 1, could be significant as some of these drugs are already expensive. The government has allowed pharmaceutical firms to raise prices of 509 formulation packs. The latest hike also applies on condoms, which are part of the list of essential medicines- prices of which are capped by the government.

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has issued a notification for price hike of drugs in line with the wholesale price index of 2014 under the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO), 2013. "As confirmed by the economic adviser (Minister of Commerce and Industry), the annual increase in the wholesale price index (WPI) works out at 3.84 per cent during calendar year 2014 over the corresponding period in 2013," NPPA said in a notification.

The 509 medicines which have become costlier include Alpha Interferon injection used to treat hepatitis B and C as well as certain types of cancer, carboplatin injection used for cancer treatment, fluconazole capsules indicated for fungal infections, among others. Welcoming the decision, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) Secretary General D G Shah said: "It is a part of the policy. Pharmaceutical companies don't get a chance to hike prices (more than once) a year.

This price hike is linked to inflation." Dr M Geyanand, Member of AP Legislative Council, expressed reservations over the decision. “There is no need for the price hike. Essential medicines should be at the reach of poor,” he said. He suspected that the decision might be a result of pressure from the US and multinational companies.

K Sunil Kumar, working committee member of the Federation of Medical and Sales Representatives' Associations of India (FMRAI), observed that the new price control system is favorable to the industry. “The essential and emergency medicines should be exempted so that the poor could not be deprived of medical care,” he said. He said it is a sign of industry domination, rather than the interest of the public health care.

According to the notification, antibiotics which have Amoxicillin capsules have also become costlier. At present, the government caps prices of a total of 348 essential medicines based on the simple average of all medicines in a particular therapeutic segment with sales of more than 1 per cent. Besides, the government regulates prices of all other medicines and companies are allowed to hike prices of such drugs by only up to 10 per cent in a year. The government had notified DPCO, 2013, which covers 680 formulations, with effect from May 15, 2014, replacing the 1995 order that regulated prices of only 74 bulk drugs.

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