In the coming months, prices of many medicines may go down by up to 50%.
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has started its review process to bring more drugs under price control, after the ministry of health and family welfare asked the regulator to recommend more drugs that can be added to the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM).
The NLEM, which has to be reviewed every three years, was revised in December last year.
The out-of-turn review is aimed at identifying medicines that should be on the list.
“There are certain medicines that should be under price capping mechanism. We are studying drugs across therapeutic areas, including HIV, diabetes, cancer and tuberculosis. The idea is to find drugs, which are currently not included under NLEM,” Bhupendra Singh, chairman, NPPA, told HT.
“We have just begun the process and it may not be right to fix a deadline as it is a responsible and time-consuming process.”
The regulator will send requests within a month to state drug controllers across India to understand the availability of certain drugs in regular markets.
“The scope of NLEM should only be expanded when the drugs mentioned under the list are abundantly available in the market,” Singh said.
The latest NLEM includes 376 medicines, up from 348 in the 2011 list. Listed drugs have to be priced according to a formula prescribed by the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) 2013, which pegs the price of a drug to the average price charged by different pharma companies, who have more than 1% marketshare for a particular formulation.
The government has recognised the NLEM as a key instrument to provide balanced healthcare, which includes accessible, affordable and quality medicine at the primary, secondary, tertiary levels.
However, expanding the scope of price ceiling puts pressure on the margin of drug makers.
“Whatever decision the government will take, it has to consider the interest of both —patient and industry,” said DG Shah, secretary-general, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, a group that represents India’s largest drug makers.