GoM to forward its suggestions to the Cabinet for approval

The Group of Ministers (GoM), headed by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, on Thursday, gave its approval to the final pharma pricing policy, bringing 348 essential drugs under the government’s price control regime.

The GoM, at its last meeting, had agreed to study how emerging countries such as Mexico, South Africa, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka fixed the prices of essential medicines, before finalising the drug pricing policy in India.

After the meeting, Mr. Pawar told reporters that the GoM would forward its recommendations to the Cabinet within a week for approval to bring the drugs under the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM). These drugs with total sales of around Rs.29,000 crore account for about 60 per cent of the domestic market.

“We have finalised every thing. Now it will go to the Cabinet, and the Cabinet will take the final view. We will send it within a week,’’ he remarked.

At present, the government, through the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), controls prices of 74 bulk drugs and their formulations.

Fertilisers and Chemicals Minister Srikant Jena said the GoM arrived at a consensus on the option, which entailed the use of weighted average prices for all the drugs which had a market share of more than one per cent. “There are 3-4 options before the GoM, but, I think, a broad agreement has been made on the option of one per cent market share,’’ he said. There was a consensus for the inclusion of 348 drugs in the NLEM, he said.

Apart from Mr. Pawar and Mr. Jena, other members of the group include Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Minister for HRD, Communications and IT Kapil Sibal, Law and Justice Minister Salman Khurshid, and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

The Supreme Court had recently criticised the government on this issue, and had given the government a two-week ultimatum to finalise the policy.