New Delhi: Price control as a strategy to improve access to medicines in India is neither effective nor sustainable, a report by global information and technology services company IMS Health has said.
As per the study, 'Assessing the Impact of Price Control Measures on Access to Medicines in India', such a strategy is ineffective at the best and counter productive at the worst.
The report suggests a combination of healthcare financing and non-financing measures such as promoting joint and bulk procurement mechanisms and investment in capacity building be adopted by the government to address the issues of access and affordability.
Commenting on the findings of the report, IMS Health South Asia General Manager Nitin Goel said: "Price control has limited impact on improving patient access and, furthermore, is not aligned with the requirements of a vibrant economy like India."
Government's priority should be on strengthening India's healthcare infrastructure and extending universal insurance coverage, he added.
Following the publication of the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) 2013, more than 652 formulations in India are now subjected to a price ceiling in an effort by the government to maintain affordability and increase access to drugs.
Highlighting some of the unintended results of the DPCO 2013, the report said primary beneficiaries of its price controls have been high income patient populations, rather than the low-income targets.
"The consumption of price-controlled drugs in rural areas has decreased by 7 per cent over the past two years, while that of non-price controlled products has risen by 5 per cent," it added.
Price control has also increased margin pressures for small and mid-sized companies, limiting both employment and investment opportunities in the sector, the report said.
Emphasising that price control measures have failed in other countries too, the report said: "These conclusions are corroborated by similar outcomes in China, the Philippines and South Korea, where price controls have consistently failed to improve overall access to medicines."