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Drugs to carry all-inclusive price from April

Govt has suggested that the MRP should factor in all taxes and the drug's name be displayed on both in English and Hindi.

india Updated: Feb 11, 2006 18:23 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

To ensure reasonable prices of drugs and their easy availability, government on Saturday suggested that the Maximum Retail Price should factor in all taxes and the drug's name be displayed on its packaging in both English and Hindi, besides proposing that medicines for cancer and HIV /AIDS be exempted from levies.

"Drugs, which are not under price control and are sold at high margins are unaffordable to the masses, have to follow the MRP. Nobody should charge more than MRP from April 1, 2006," Union Chemical and Fertilisers Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters after the first meeting of Pharmaceutical Advisory Forum.

"State authorities have promised to levy zero tax on cancer and HIV drugs if Centre does so," he added.

Everybody, including manufacturers, state officials and chemists have agreed to the suggestion and the deadline is April 1. "By August 15, 2006, every body has to fall in line."

Paswan also said all stakeholders have agreed to cooperate in making cancer and HIV/AIDS drugs available at reduced prices.

The forum has also agreed to write name, price, production and expiry date of the drug both in Hindi and English to avoid confusion among the Hindi speaking masses.

"It will also be implemented from April 1 and by October 2, 2006, everybody has to comply," he said. Necessary amendments would be made as and when required.

Health Ministers and Secretaries, Drug Controllers, officials from the centre and states, representatives of drug industry and consumer groups attended the day-long forum.

He said there was a need to strengthen the monitoring system in the country. "We need more manpower and teeth and necessary action in this regard would be taken."

About the government's commitment to provide free drugs to people living below the poverty line (BPL), the Minister said the government was at present studying proposals to provide free drugs for people falling in the BPL category and were planning to have discussions with the ministries concerned.

"We are assessing the options to provide free drugs to people below poverty line and will talk to the ministries concerned for the funds required," he said.

Meanwhile, official sources said the Delhi government had also proposed to initiate a health insurance for all its citizens, which would run parallel to the Centre's scheme to supply drugs free of cost to BPL families.

"Reduction of excise duty would control shifting of industries. Industries are being shifted to states where there is zero tax, which is not good for the rest of states that levy higher excise duty," he said.

The Minister also stressed on the need to encourage PSUs involved in drug development. "We are in discussion with various states to procure drugs from PSUs on priority. It would help them function better and make drugs available when required," he added.

First Published: Feb 11, 2006 18:07 IST