Prices of many "essentials drugs" such as ibuprofen, paracetamol and insulin injections are likely to fall as a ministerial panel has recommended price control for 274 more drugs, a move that has not gone down too well with the pharma industry.
A group of ministers, led by agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, Thursday proposed for 348 drugs, up from the present 74, to be brought under the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM).
The proposal will be sent for the cabinet's approval within a week. If accepted, it will bring the pricing of around 60 % of the medicines sold in India —worth of Rs. 30,000 crore annually — under government control.
“There will not be a dramatic fall in the drug prices,” said Dr Narendra Gupta of Jan Swasthiya Abhiyan (Health for All Movement). He, however, described the move as the “first right step” towards making drugs affordable.
India is the world's fourth-largest drug market by volume and 14th largest by value.
"We have broadly agreed for… entailing the use of weighted average prices for all drugs having a market share of more than 1%,” minister of state for chemical and fertilisers Srikant Jena told HT. Simply put, the price of a drug will be determined on the basis of the average price of the same drug sold by companies having 1% or greater market share.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh constituted the GoM after the health ministry opposed the market-based pricing mechanism. The ministry backed Thursday's proposal.
But, the pharma sector is not happy.
"The industry has lost one year's growth. It will hurt all major companies, particularly the large 100 domestic and foreign companies,” said Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance director general DG Shah.
"The silver lining is that it is a balanced policy and will ensure both access and availability."