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India set to hike number of drugs under price controls

India could increase by nearly five-fold the number of generic drugs sold in the country under price controls, a minister said on Thursday.

delhi Updated: Sep 20, 2012 23:22 IST

India could increase by nearly five-fold the number of generic drugs sold in the country under price controls, a minister said on Thursday.

India is the world's leading manufacturer and exporter of non-branded medicines and affordability of drugs is a huge issue in the country where hundreds of millions of people live in abject poverty.

Srikant Jena, minister of state for for chemicals and fertilizers, said that the government has "almost decided" on boosting the number of generic drugs to be brought under price controls to 348 from 74.

"We are working on the price mechanism for it," he said.

The proposal, which could be implemented this year, has drawn heavy fire from local and foreign drug producers who that say India's market is already sufficiently competitive and that there is no need to impose price controls.

The proposals would bring about two-thirds of India's drug compounds under price controls, compared with just 20% now.

A ministerial panel will finalise the plan to increase the number of generic drugs under price controls, the head of the committee, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, said separately.

The statements come after India announced in July it was moving ahead with plans to spend nearly $5 billion to supply free drugs to patients as it seeks to bring the nation closer to universal health care coverage.