The Supreme Court on Wednesday told the government to inform it within a week when it would notify the new list of essential medicines under the drug control mechanism.
The court also asked the Centre to ensure that the pricing mechanism for essential drugs fixed in 1999 was not altered.
During the hearing of a PIL filed by the All-India Drug Action Network, wanting to lower the price of essential drugs, a bench of justice GS Singhvi and Justice SJ Mukopadhyaya sought an affidavit after additional solicitor general Siddhartha Luthra claimed the notification would be issued within three months.
Luthra said the empowered group of ministers had submitted its recommendations and the Cabinet was to take a decision. “Inform us within a week otherwise we will pass interim orders,” the bench said. It fixed October 9 as the next date of hearing.
It further added: “We are gravely concerned. It has been going on for nine years. It is engaging the attention only when court puts a ceiling. The court will step in only when there is a failure. Court doesn't run the government.”
Since the petitioner had on the last hearing expressed apprehension that the proposed drug policy might lead to a steep hike in prices of essential drugs, the bench told Luthra to ensure that prices of essential drugs notified on July 1999 and subsequent notification should not be altered.
Echoing the concern of common man pushed to the wall due to escalation of medicine prices, the court observed: “One of us face the brunt of this (exorbitant medicine prices). The cost of medicine for the treatment came to Rs. 50,000. What will happen to the common man. Either he will die or he will have to buy the drug.”