The drug price regulator, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has created a special body of officers, including a battery of lawyers, to speed up the process of closing court cases against drug companies.
Based on the detection of cases of overcharging till March 2012, NPPA has issued demand notices in over 800 cases involving an amount of Rs 2462 crore. “Of this, Rs 219 crore has been realised till March 2012 but Rs 2125 crore is under litigation and pending in various courts,” said Srikant Kumar Jena, minister of state, chemicals and fertilisers.
The body will suggest to NPPA the legal methods for seeking the amount under litigation. “We are vigorously pursuing the matter where the first step is to update the database. A committee of special officers and lawyers is being created to pursue such cases,” said CP Singh, chairman, NPPA. “The authority plans a coercive action against the cases pending in lower court or put under a local, absolute stay order,” Singh added.
About 63% (Rs 1,555 crore) of the total overcharged amount of Rs 2,357 crore, demanded by NPPA from drug companies so far, has to be recovered from Cipla alone. Most leading pharma firms such as Pfizer, Cadila, Dr Reddys’, Ranbaxy etc also figure in NPPA’s list.Further, to keep a strict check on overcharging, NPPA has instructed state drug controllers to collect samples of drugs frequently. "We are in talks with principal secretaries in department of health to devise convenient ways of tracking price rise," said Singh.