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Pharma lobby obtains stay on Centre’s drug price control order

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Date:Aug 3, 2013

Drug manufacturers also trying to scuttle government’s drug pricing policy

Pharma companies will continue to sell essential medicines at the current prices for the time being. They were supposed to follow the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority's (NPPA’s) drug price control order under a new drug pricing policy from July 29. But before it could come into effect drug manufacturers and their associations approached the Delhi High Court for relief. Some companies have taken a stay order from the court, saying that they are unable to sell at the new prices.

The companies that have sought stay on the drug price order include Cipla, Sun Pharma, Indian Drug Manufacturer Association (IDMA). Media reports say the Confederation of Indian Pharmaceutical Association (CIPA) has also sought stay against the government order.
In its order, the high court directed the Central government not to take action against the manufacturers till the next hearing which is scheduled end of August.

NPPA notified the prices of first set of 151 essential drugs on June 14 and gave 45 days to drug companies to sell at the revised prices which are much lower than what pharma companies charge. The 45 days ended on July 29. Drug companies seeking relief from the court on the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) 2013 argued that recalling medicines from the market is not feasible and the NPPA should allow the existing stocks to be sold at current market prices.

Blaming policy makers for this mess, D G Shah, general secretary of IDMA, said people who made the drug pricing policy have no idea about the market. Recalling stocks from the market across the country would be logistic nightmare, he said. He suggested that the new process should start with the new batches of the medicine.

S Srinivasan, managing trustee of LOCOST, a Vadodara-based manufacturing company, disagreed with Shah. He said there is nothing is wrong in the government order while adding that the pharma companies should not have gone to the court and that this is the attempt to create confusion. LOCOST makes affordable essential drugs and Srinivasan was instrumental in filing the affidavit in court related to drug pricing. “The transition period would have some problems and the companies should abide by the law,” he added.

Meanwhile, taking cover under the stay order, industry representatives have also lodged a complaint about the government’s drug pricing formula. Shah pointed that the industry is not happy about the formula that puts the new price at one third of the price of the medicines.

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