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Himani Chandna Gurtoo , Hindustan Times
New Delhi, June 19, 2013
Drug prices are slated to come down by next month. In the first phase of price revision (under the new, 2012 policy on price control), drug watchdog National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has regulated the prices of about 150 essential medicines.

"Many life saving drugs including drugs for treating tuberculosis (TB), Parkinson's Disease and heart diseases will be cheaper by up to 40% in the next 45 days," said CP Singh, chairman, NPPA.

For instance, prices of Ofloxacin, a popular formulation used to treat TB, will come down by 41% while the price of trihexyphenidyl hydrochloride, a formulation used to treat Parkinson's disease will be 47% cheaper.

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Prices of several widely used painkillers, anti-infectives, antibiotics and anti-cancer medicines will also fall by up to 50%.  NPPA plans to fix the ceiling prices of all medicines by the end of June.

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy 2012 (NPPP) caps prices of 348 essential drugs at the simple average of the prices of all brands of that drug that have a market share of at least 1%.

However, insulin is set to escape the simple average pricing for the next one year. The lowest retail price (of any brand of) insulin will be considered its maximum price.

"We revisited and revised pricing strategy last week. According to rules, we cannot change the mechanism for one year. In June 2014, the department of industrial policy and promotion will change insulin prices," Singh said.

Pharmaceutical companies are unhappy. "The policy will wipe out at least 20% of the industry's profit," said DG Shah, secretary general, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance.