Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said the government will go after the drug companies to check their practice of inflating the prices of essential drugs.

“We are at it. We are committed to bringing down drug prices which are currently at unaffordable levels. You will soon see the prices coming down,” Mr. Chandy said while responding to the Opposition's notice seeking adjournment of the proceedings to discuss the general price situation in the State.

The Chief Minister asked how anybody could justify the massive mark up in the prices of drugs for treating such maladies as cancer. His information was that one particular drug available at the Regional Cancer Centre here for Rs. 700 was being sold at an unacceptably high Rs. 10,500. “How can we allow this to go on,” he asked.

Mr. Chandy said Health Minister Adoor Prakash had already begun the ground work to make the drug companies see reason. One of the ways in which the government proposed to do this was by strengthening the Kerala State Medical Services Corporation, he added.

When Deputy Leader of the Opposition Kodiyeri Balakrishnan took a dig at him for his repeated promises on the issue, Mr. Chandy replied that the UDF's effort was to achieve what the LDF could not do during its five years in government.

V.S. Sunil Kumar (CPI), who raised the price rise issue, said the government would be able to rein in the drug manufacturers only if it decided to allow the Medical Services Corporation to open retail drug outlets.