The Punjab and Haryana high court has sought a reply from the Punjab government on a public-interest petition alleging that private companies are using unfair practices and fraudulent means in supplying Hepatitis-C medicine Alpha-2B to the patients for exorbitant prices.
Acting on the petition filed by a non-government organization (NGO), the division bench headed by acting chief justice Ashutosh Mohunta issued notice to the Punjab government to file its reply by December 15. The petitioner organisation has also made private pharmaceutical companies Cadilla Healthcare and Virchow Biotech, manufacturers of the generic drug in India; besides Fulford India and Roche Products India, respondents in the case.
The petition cites studies suggesting that 14.40-lakh people have infectious Hapititis-C in Punjab; and the price of its medicine on the open market is between `11,000 and `14,000 for each vial, even as it is also available with no appreciable difference for a negotiable price between Rs 3,500 and Rs 5,500.
It adds that while National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, a regulatory body of Indian government, was yet to declare a price for the new drug being supplied by Cadilla and Virchow, the patients were unaware that prices had gone down after the new introduction. They are falling for the marketing gimmicks of the companies that have connived with doctors.
The petitioner has sought directions to the Punjab director general of police (DGP) to take measures as per law.