January 07, 2012

Medicines' prices should not escalate, Supreme Court tells Centre

Amid fears that drug prices may shoot owing to the proposed drug pricing policy, the Supreme Court today 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 much more consumers in India than other parts of the world," the court observed.

A bench of justices G S Singhvi and S D 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.

Link: Original Article

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