NEW DELHI : The government may notify the revised list of essential medicines by March end, even as it may require more deliberations for the new list to come under price capping, sources said.
At a stakeholder consultation meeting held by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Friday to formulate the revised National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM), the pharmaceutical industry and civil society were asked for their final comments.
While drugmakers requested the government to defer the process to refresh the list of essential medicines to next year citing the Covid-19 crisis, senior government officials said that NLEM will only define essentiality of medicines and ensure the drugs contained in the list are available at primary, secondary and tertiary level.
“Whether prices of medicines mentioned in the NLEM will be capped directly by the government or not will be decided based on recommendations by the Standing Committee on Affordable Medicines and Health Products (SCAMHP),” an official said.
Once the NLEM is notified by the health ministry, SCAMHP will evaluate the list and their prices to gather which of those require price regulation. The final capping will be done by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority based on the recommendation of SCAMHP.
SCAMHP- headed by Member (Health), Niti Aayog – include chief economic advisor; secretary, department of health research; vice-chairperson of the NLEM committee; joint secretary of department of industrial policy and promotion; and director general of health services.
The ICMR is working on a plan to revise the NLEM with special focus on adding drugs used to treat cancer, diabetes and antibiotics. The list, which was notified in 2015 and implemented in 2016, includes all the drugs that fall directly under the government’s price regulation mechanism.
At present, around 374 medicines are part of NLEM and are under price control, accounting for around 18% of the total local pharma market.