In a huge win for pharma companies, the Delhi high court on Friday set aside the government’s notification through which it put a ceiling on the prices of condom sold in the country, by including it in the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO).
A bench of chief justice G Rohini and justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw set aside the November 4, 2013 and July 10, 2014 orders of the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA). The bench said the NPPA’s orders on the issue were “illegal and unsustainable”.
“The orders of NPPA dated November 5, 2013, and July 10, 2014, are illegal and unsustainable. In the result both the said orders are hereby set aside,” the bench said.
“It’s a welcome move. Consumers should expect 10 to 20% increase in prices of luxury condoms within a year,” Mankind Pharma CEO and chairman CEO & chairman RC Juneja said.
The high court order came on plea of Reckitt Benckiser and J K Ansell Ltd, who had challenged the government’s decision to put a ceiling price of Rs 6.56 per condom.
Pharma firms have argued that the low ceiling price will force bigger companies to stop production, which, in turn, will have a negative effect on population control measures. Since condoms are ‘devices not medicines’, they would not fall under the DPCO, they added. The government, however, had argued that since condoms help prevent diseases, they come under ‘medicines’ and, hence, prices can be controlled.
During the course of the year-long hearing, the National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA) said if luxury condoms were removed from the DPCO, then manufacturers would flood the market with expensive varieties. The government has maintained that since condoms were currently in the national list of essential medicines, there could be no gradations such as luxury and ordinary.