Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has come down heavily on high drug prices and said that it is nothing short of robbery that is happening in the drugs market in the State.

“The drugs market has become an area of exploitation. At least one person in every home consumes medicines. They are being exploited. It is robbery that is happening out there. We cannot allow this to go on,” Mr. Chandy told the Assembly during question hour on Wednesday.

The Chief Minister, who intervened when Health Minister Adoor Prakash was replying to questions, pointed out that when he decided to convene a meeting of drug manufacturers to discuss the pricing system, reports appeared out of the blue that they would not be allowed to attend the meeting. The government would broaden the presence and role of the Kerala State Medical Services Corporation to put an end to the exploitation of the people, he said.

The Health Minister said that the government had taken a serious view of the high drug prices. The government proposed to sell costly and branded drugs at moderate prices through the Medical Services Corporation. This, it was hoped, would help control the drug companies. To begin with, the Corporation would procure drugs for treating cancer, 31 drugs for diabetes, 78 drugs for heart ailments, 32 drugs for kidney ailments, and 12 drugs relating to treatment for infertility, the Minister said.

Dam construction

Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph told the House that the government proposed to float a Periyar Development Corporation to take up construction of a new dam at Mullaperiyar. The State had already handed over to the committee constituted by the Supreme Court the feasibility report for the new dam and would submit the detailed project report soon. The government was also examining three proposals, including from the National Institute of Technology, Calicut, regarding demolition of the existing Mullaperiyar dam, he said.

The Chief Minister told the House that as many as 2,401 theft cases had been reported after the present government assumed office. The police had also registered 615 cases for atrocities on women and children during the period. Minister for Vigilance Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said that six officials had been arrested after the government assumed office. Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Tribes P.K. Jayalakshmi said 81 cases had been registered for atrocities on Scheduled Tribe people during the period.