Health Minister V.S. Sivakumar has warned of strict action if wholesale pharmaceutical distributors or retailers try to create an artificial shortage of drugs, now that the new Drug Price Control Order has come into force.

The Drugs Controller has been directed to take action against any retailer, even cancellation of drug licences, if found to be indulging in such practices, he said.

The order, announced by the Union government, came into effect on Monday and accordingly, the market prices of 348 drugs on the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) have been brought within its ambit. The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority has so far fixed the maximum retail prices of 293 drugs, out of which 151 began to be sold at reduced prices from Monday.

The Drugs Controller has, however, pointed out that only the prices of 151 drugs in specific dosages had been reduced. Also, there is no change in the prices of several fixed dose combinations of drugs included in the NLEM.

For example, only the price of 500-mg paracetamol tablets has been reduced, while the prices of the same drug in different dosages, suspension or drug combinations have not been reduced.

Hence pharmacies and retailers should pay specific attention to the list of 151 drugs with newly reduced prices, the Drugs Controller has said. Retailers may get in touch with the district-level drugs control officials (ph: 9447 629012, [0471] 247 1896 or [0484] 2422819) in case there was a shortage of any drug included on the NLEM.