Govt likely to review decision to cap buprenorphine price
Chandigarh The state government is likely to review its decision to cap the per tablet price of buprenorphine — a drug prescribed to treat opioid addiction — amid confusion and concerns over implemention of the decision.
A few months ago, the health department had capped the price of buprenorphine, asking the de-addiction centres not to sell the drug for not more than ₹7.50 per tablet. The de-addiction centres were asked to sell a particular brand, to be made available to them for ₹6 per tablet, which they can sell for ₹7.50 to the patients.
On the face of it, the decision was highly appreciated as it appeared in the interest of the drug addicts who were buying the tablets for about ₹30-40 each from the private centres.
Now, what has made the government to think of reviewing its decision is the bidding for the supply of the drug. The minimum rate quoted by a private firm, it is learnt, is about ₹10 for a tablet whereas the government was earlier buying it for ₹3.
Senior functionaries of the health department feel that the government will either have to revise the rate fixed for the private centres or do away with the idea of price capping.
Health and family welfare minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said that a review is needed and the government will decide after forming a committee of experts to look into the matter.
Private de-addiction centres have already been opposing the move to cap the price, saying that it is not necessary to have same price for similar medicines. “One anti-biotic capsule sells for ₹1, while other sells for ₹10,” said a centre owner.
The private de-addiction centre owners suggest that they can make available the low-priced medicine to patients, but should not be forced to sell only a particular brand. “Let the doctor prescribe the medicine and let the patient decide whether he can afford it or nor,” they told the minister during a recent meeting.
The private de-addiction centre owners have already started charging consultation fee from patients which they were not doing earlier.
“Private facilities cannot be compared with those of the government. A government facility is entire for public welfare and all costs are borne by the government. Services of a psychiatrist cost us between ₹1-1.5 lakh each month. Earlier, we used to recover these expenses from the margin in buprenorphine. Now, we have levied other charges to meet the cost,” said a de-addiction centre owner who didn’t want to be named.