Govt refutes reports over 10% price hike on 100 non essential drugs

While denying media reports on the alleged price hike on the medicines that have been recently taken out of the National List of Essential Medicines, union government has clarified that there is an established process in place for such cases

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New Delhi: The Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers that controls the pricing of medicines, has denied the reports published in a section of media over the price hike on few non essential drugs. These reports had stated increased prices of 100 drugs by 10 percent as due to their recent deletion from the essentials list.

Ministry has clarified that the ceiling prices of 464 formulation (amounting to nearly 7000 different stock keeping  units) have been fixed by the government after the announcement of National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM), 2015 and Revised Schedule-I. “This has resulted in effective savings to the consumers of the country Rs 2288 Crore by way of reduced prices,” mentioned Ministry’s circular issued in this regard.

Calling the news item as misleading, Ministry has said that it is not in tune with the factual position. The correct factual position as claimed by it in notification mentioned, “It is that consequent to notification of National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Policy-2012 (NPPP-2012) on December 7, 2012 and notification of Drugs (Price Control) Order, 2013 (DPCO, 2013), all the medicines as specified in the NLEM-2011 were brought under price control. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare constituted a Core-Committee to revise the NLEM under the Chairmanship of Secretary, Department of Health Research and Dr Y K Gupta, Professor and Head, Department of Pharmacology, AIIMS as the Vice Chairman. This Committee evaluated the medicines on the objective criteria for inclusion and deletion.”

The criteria for deletion of medicines from National List of Essential Medicines includes the factors such as the medicine been banned in India, concerns on the safety profile of a medicine, availability of better efficacy or or better cost-effective is now available and a medicine no longer a national health concern in India. In case of antimicrobials, if the resistance pattern has rendered a medicine ineffective in Indian context.

Based on the scientific criteria, Core Committee recommended inclusion of 106 medicines and deletion of 70 medicines from the earlier NLEM, 2011.  The Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy entails the price control of only schedule-1 medicines which are included in the NLEM.  The medicines, which ceased to be part of NLEM, 2015 and Schedule-1, will only be monitored as non-scheduled medicines.  Non-scheduled medicines are allowed an increase of upto 10% in the prices every year, which is monitored by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA).

In the detailed analysis of the number of medicines deleted and added in the Schedule-1, therapeutic category-wise in the revised NLEM, 2015, (indicated in Annexures) shows that there are sufficient number of medicines in each of the categories.  These scheduled medicines represent a wide range of medicines for different therapeutic groups and will help in promoting medicines with better efficiency and favourable safety profiles, which are now under price control due to their inclusion in NLEM, which is in the public interest.

The details on the listing of medicines can be found here in Annexure 1 of NLEM 2015  and Annexure 2 of NLEM 2015.