Mumbai : The government is gearing up to set up a Drug Tribunal Board with an aim to decriminalize offences punishable under Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

The decision to this effect was taken by Union minister of health and family welfare and chemicals and fertilizers Mansukh Mandaviya at a meeting convened by National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) on July 26, 2022 to discuss trade margin rationalization. The government is keen to rationalize trade margins on non-scheduled drugs to reduce their prices.

The meeting was attended by representatives from several industry associations–Laghu Udyog Bharati, Small and Medium Pharma Manufacturers Association (SMPMA), Indian Federation of Pharma Generics representing scores of small and medium drug firms.

At the meet, Laghu Udyog Bharati had put forth a proposal to form Drug Tribunal Board to adjudicate disputes relating to offences punishable under Drugs and Cosmetics Act. Currently, there is no such mechanism to redress the above issues.

“We have raised this demand time and again. The existing Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 is prosecutable. Any drug or cosmetic deemed to be adulterated or spurious is punishable with imprisonment and fine too. We expect the Drug Tribunal Board would consider various manufacturers’ grievances and especially prosecution matters related to various states and CDSCO for getting justice to manufacturers on departmental levels as it is related to various storage place conditions and logistics are also involved,” said Dr Rajesh Gupta who represented Laghu Udyog Bharati at the meeting.

The minister agreed to form the Drug Tribunal Board and directed NPPA and Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) officials to prepare a roadmap to achieve decriminalization of offences punishable under Drugs & Cosmetics Act. The minister also sought suggestions from industry bodies in this regard.

The Board is likely to be part of proposed Drugs and Cosmetics Act. The ministry of health and family welfare proposed a draft New Drugs, Medical Devices and Cosmetics Bill 2022 last month in order to keep pace with changing needs, times, and technology.