New Delhi: Amid fears that drug prices may
shoot owing to the proposed drug pricing policy, the Supreme
Court on Thursday asked the Union government to ensure that rates do
not "escalate" causing a burden on the common man.
"Prices should not escalate. There are apprehensions that
prices will escalate. In the name of the new policy the prices
shall not escalate. Because we have much more consumers
in India than other parts of the world," the court observed.
A bench of justices GS Singhvi and SD Mukhopadhyaya
posted the matter for further hearing to January 17, next year
after Additional Solicitor General Parag Tripathi said the notification of the new policy would take place only after the Group of Ministers (GoM) takes a decision in about three months time.
The matter came up for hearing during a PIL filed in 2003
by the All India Drugs Action Network and others which had
complained that currently only around 78 drugs are placed
under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 1995 (DPCO) making
rest of the medicines beyond the reach of the common man.
In an affidavit, the Department of Chemicals and
Petrochemicals, however, informed the court that it had
already initiated action for formulating a new policy, in
which "348 medicines included in the National List of
Essential Medicines (NLEM), 2011 and associated medicines will
be brought under price control".
According to DCPC, a draft National Pharmaceutical
Pricing Policy 2011 (NPPP-2011) has been circulated among all
the stake holders and ministries concerned besides being put
on its official website for their views.
However, senior counsel Colin Gonzalves appearing for the
NGO told the bench that the proposed drug policy was fraught
with apprehension of a steep hike and wanted the court to
restrain the authorities from taking any step.