Drugs pricing row: HC extends relief to Cipla Ltd till Aug 27

Drugs pricing row: HC extends relief to Cipla Ltd till Aug 27 New Delhi: Delhi High Court on Tuesday extended the operation of its earlier order asking the Centre not to take coercive steps against pharma major Cipla Ltd which was told to replace stocks in the market with those carrying reduced prices within 45 days of new price notification.

The Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers through the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) had issued the 2013 Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) that had asked pharma companies, including Cipla, to reduce prices of some of their medicines and the decreased prices be made effective on the drugs which are already in the market.

Earlier, a bench headed by Acting Chief Justice B D Ahmed had granted interim relief to Cipla asking the Ministry and others not take coercive steps in view of the fact that date of implementation of the 2013 order was ending on July 29.

The bench, also comprising Justice Vibhu Bakhru, today extended the relief till August 27 - the next date of hearing.

Meanwhile, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd and the Confederation of Indian Pharmaceutical Industry (CIPI) also moved the court against the new pricing policy. The court issued notices on the pleas and asked the Centre and others to respond by the next date of hearing.

Earlier, pharma major Cipla had challenged a government order asking it to reduce prices of its 125 drugs within 45 days of issuance of the notification.

Giving the relief, the court had asked the firm to supply the revised price list of regulated medicines to its distributors, suppliers and retailers.

The Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, had on May 15 issued a notification to implement the order asking pharma companies to reduce prices of 348 medicines.

The DPCO also asked them to replace stocks in the market with those carrying reduced maximum retail price within 45 days of the new price notification by the NPPA.

Cipla, in its plea filed through Pratibha M Singh, has sought quashing of certain provisions of the DPCO saying they are "ultra vires and unconstitutional."

"It is submitted that by the impugned clauses, all manufacturers have been called upon to ensure that even those scheduled formulations which have already been sold and/or manufactured and are now available for sale in domestic market have to be sold at a price not exceeding the ceiling (plus local taxes as applicable).

"Further, the impugned clauses also stipulate that the aforesaid needs to be done within 45 days from the date of notification of the ceiling price by the government," it said.

The pharma company said earlier DPCOs used to give sufficient time for compliance of the revised prices.

The provision in DPCO that requires companies to pull out existing stocks within 45 days is unreasonable, it said.

The lawyer urged that the company be allowed to sell at old rate the existing stocks that have been manufactured and already been supplied in the market and the new rates can be made applicable on new lots to be supplied by firms.

PTI