Cheaper essential drugs in coming year

MUMBAI

New financial year with hope of good news. Prices of all essential medicines, including painkillers, anti-infectives, anti-diabetes, cardiac and antibiotics, are expected to fall by 3%. This will be the first time that prices of nearly 750-odd essential formulations (part of the National List of Essential Medicines) will witness a price drop across the board, since the National Pharmaceutical Policy was implemented in 2013. The drop in prices will be in line with the change in annual wholesale price index, which was -2.75% (negative) for the January-December period. Drug companies have already been sounded out by the government, sources said, adding, while a majority are agreeable, a few are not in favour. An industry body has already taken up the issue with the government, requesting it to drop the move. The DPCO (Drug Price Control Order) 2013 lays down the provision for price revision in drugs, where manufacturers can change the maximum retail price (MRP) of scheduled formulations once a year, in April, on the basis of the WPI of the preceding calendar year, and, for this, no prior approval of government shall be required. Also, in case of a decline in wholesale price index, there shall be a corresponding reduction in the maximum retail price, it adds. Companies do not have to wait for the government notification in this regard. They will need to decrease prices in line with the WPI..The DPCO 2013 covers about 18-20% of the organized pharmaceutical retail market valued at around Rs 96,000 crore. In the first exercise, prices of 652 formulations under 27 therapeutic areas like anti-infectives, cardiac, gastro-intestinal medicines, painkillers and anti-diabetic drugs, were slashed in 2013. Last year, 35-odd formulations were added to the list.

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