Drug pricing policy proposal in next two weeks: Pawar

Last Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 20:17

New Delhi: Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who is heading a GoM to formulate the drug pricing policy, on Thursday said the panel will finalise the proposal within the next two weeks.

The group which met on Thursday, agreed to study how emerging countries like Mexico, South Africa, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka fix prices of essential medicines, before finalising the policy on drug pricing in India.

"We want some information and that information will be supplied within one week's time...Our desire is to finalise everything in a next 8-10 days time. In the next meeting we will finalise everything," Pawar told reporters here after a meeting of the group of ministers(GoM).

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said the group has made progress on formulating the policy, with a broad consensus emerging.

Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Srikant Jena said there was consensus for the inclusion of 348 drugs in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM).

The commerce ministry has given a view on which there will be an in depth review in the next two weeks and then it will go to the Cabinet, he said.

"We need time to study how emerging countries like Mexico, South Africa, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka fix the prices of essential medicines. This data was not readily available. So we are asking for data from developing countries," Jena added.

Law Minister Salman Khurshid said the market based formula for fixing prices of essential medicines was very difficult as it would mean leaving it to the market to decide.

"We are talking about essential drugs which people cannot afford," he said, adding the data was unlikely to be available before the next hearing of the Supreme Court on September 27 and that the court would be accordingly informed.

Apart from Pawar, Khurshid and Jena, the other members of the group includes Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Minister for HRD Minister, Communications and IT, Kapil Sibal, and Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

The GoM, which last met in May is looking into issues related to regulating prices of 348 drugs. It is examining a draft policy proposing a pricing model in this regard.

At present, the government through the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), controls the price of 72 bulk drugs and formulations.

After being unable to frame a policy for price control of essential drugs in its previous term, the UPA-II government had last year circulated a draft National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy 2011 through the Department of Pharmaceuticals.

The policy, however, could not be finalised due to differences between ministries of health and chemicals and fertilisers. Other stakeholders, industry and NGO's have also expressed their concerns on the pricing model which was suggested.


First Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 20:17

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