Rakesh saini

The Indian government and the drug industry are headed for yet another collision course after the acrimonious legal tussle over the approval of hundreds of drugs based on fixed dose combinations. Indian drug companies may seek legal intervention against the recent decision of the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority to cut prices of medicines that were already sold below the minimum bar set by the pricing watchdog. The Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance filed a review petition with the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) following a March 2 notification by NPPA, said DG Shah, secretary-general of the lobby group that represents India’s 20 top drug makers. The notification, which fixed or revised prices of 530 scheduled formulation packs as per the Wholesale Price Index effective April 1, had stated that the prices of formulations that were already lower than the ceiling price would have to be reduced by 2.71%, Shah said. There is no such provision for the NPPA to force companies, which are selling below the ceiling price, to further reduce prices, Shah claimed. Around 5,000 small and medium enterprises already sell their formulations below the revised ceiling price for as low as Rs 2 to Rs 3, said Shah. The NPPA has taken certain actions which are unlawful and arbitrary, he said, adding: the DoP has not yet responded to the review petition. “If we do not get proper hearing and the orders passed by NPPA are not amended, we’ll be left with no choice but to seek remedy elsewhere,” he said. This could include approaching the court as a last resort, he added.

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