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Regulator cracksdown on drug prices

business Updated: Apr 16, 2013 02:55 IST
Himani Chandna Gurtoo
Himani Chandna Gurtoo
Hindustan Times
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You may have shelled some extra amount for the last strip of combiflam tablets or gentamycin ointment you bought. Probably, you won’t next time.

But, the drug price regulator has now stepped up its crackdown against major pharmaceutical companies that have been selling regulated drugs including household generics of suprimox, ibuprofen, becosule or ampicilline capsules at higher than stipulated prices.

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has slapped overcharging notices to over 900 companies for overcharging of medicine prices, involving a penalty of nearly Rs.2,600 crore.

The companies to which notices have been sent include Ranbaxy Labs, Cadila Healthcare, Cipla, Mankind Pharma, Avantis Pharma, Dr. Reddy, Pfizer, Merck Ltd and many others.

“These cases pertain to drugs whose prices are controlled under the government’s drug price control order, and where companies were not adhering to the price specified by the NPPA. Over the years, the principal and interest chargeable has been piling up,” said CP Singh, chairman, NPPA.

“Of this (Rs.2,600 crore), Rs.234 crore has been realised. The rest is not received or under litigation in various courts.”

The drugs in which overcharging has been detected include common prescription drugs such as Combiflam, Doxyl, I-V fluid, Gentamicin, Becosules Capsules and Paracetamol.

Mail sent to Ranbaxy Laboratories, Mankind Pharma, Cipla, Dr.Reddy’s Laboratories and other pharma companies did not elicit any response.

The drug watchdog has also increased the frequency with which it makes suo motu purchase of drug samples, in a bid to keep prices under check.

“We have expedited the process of realising the penalties from firms,” said Singh.