The Narendra Modi government is likely to bring a number of drugs not currently under price control within the ambit, resulting in their prices falling by 10 to 15%.
National List of Essential Medicines, a committee formed by the health ministry, met for the first time on Tuesday to discuss pending proposals, including the plan to bring more drugs under price control.
The ministry last year raised the number of drugs that are subject to price controls to 348 from 74, leading to a 50-80% fall in the prices of a number of anti-cancer and anti-infective drugs.
However, health ministry sources said it will be many months before a decision is made.
Members from the drug department and senior doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Maulana Azad Medical College, who are a part of the panel, attended the meeting, sources said. However, health minister Harsh Vardhan and Lov Verma, secretary, department of health and family welfare, remained unavailable. While the minister has left for US, Verma told HT he was on leave since two days. Verma, however, did not deny that the ministry is considering the proposal to bring more drugs under price control. "I will let you know once there will be anything concrete," he said.
With pharma firms already irked over the issues of de-growth and patent rows, further curbs are likely to fuel dissatisfaction. "Such reports (proposals) create uncertainty," said DG Shah, secretary-general, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance.
"Any such initiative will discourage the industry," a senior official of a multinational drug-maker said.