The All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) demanded the need for a market-based drug pricing policy in the country.

Speaking to newsmen during his visit to the city, the honorary general secretary of AIOCD, Suresh Gupta reiterated that market-based drug pricing policy would be able to meet the needs of patients without hampering the growth of pharmaceutical industry.

Mr. Gupta was in Berhampur to attend a meeting organised by Ganjam and Phulbani Chemists and Druggists Association (GPCDA).

The AIOCD leader felt any additional pressure on drug manufacturers to lower price in this ultra-competitive would prove counterproductive and detrimental for the pharmaceutical industry. According to him market-based pricing would prevent formulations going off the market on account of unviable manufacturing environment which can happen during cost-based pricing regime.

Mr. Gupta said the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) has been increased from the current 74 to 348 drugs.

It is envisioned that it would reduce price of drugs by up to 20 per cent. But the irony is that specific drugs for specific strengths have been included in the current NLEM list. So, there was chance of bypassing this regulation.

Reports indicate that the government is set to introduce the concept of weighted average price (WAP) as the method for fixing the ceiling price of drugs.

In such a system, the present prices of existing brands and their respective share in the entire market of a particular drug will be taken into account to compute the ceiling price. Such a method is erroneous and as the ceiling price fixed would largely reflect the price of the brand leaders.

This proposed method of price fixation for medicines was likely to push up the prices of brands that are cheaper.

Adequate safeguards were required to prevent prices of low-priced drugs from moving upwards towards the ceiling price by combining the formula with a price cap, Mr. Gupta said.

Speaking on availability of spurious drugs in the market, Mr. Gupta said the AIOCD always advocated strict action against people involved in manufacturing and trading of spurious drugs.

He also advocated pharmacists to be used in all retail units of medicines in the country.