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Most anti-cancer drugs costly despite price cap, says AIDAN

“Most cancer medicines still remain unaffordable to most Indians because there is no curb on profiteering by pharma manufacturers”. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Despite price capping of 42 anti-cancer drugs by the government recently, “most cancer medicines still remain unaffordable to most Indians because there is no curb on profiteering by pharma manufacturers,” the All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN), a non-government organisation, said in a release on Saturday.

The release states that the “formula for price capping itself was developed by the Standing Committee for Affordable Medicines and Health Products, chaired by Niti Aayog, which is not equipped with the technical expertise housed at the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) nor the data for analysing and designing a methodology to cap margins. It was unfortunately accepted by the NPPA without further due diligence.”

“The formula does not disturb the margins of companies before the medicines reach the stockist,” said S. Srinivasan, convener of AIDAN, which works towards increasing access to essential medicines and promoting their rational use.

He added that capping of margins should begin from the cost price plus manufacturer’s margin, or the landed cost, whichever is applicable.

Price variations

The release says that after the current exercise, there are wide variations in the prices of different brands of the same medicine. This needs to be corrected. “Uniform ceiling price caps for life-saving medicines are much more effective,” said Malini Aisola, co-convener of AIDAN. She added that given the wide variation in prices and the extremely high prices of some medicines, graded margin capping should have been implemented.

Giving examples of the high prices of drugs, the release said that a strip of 5 mg tablets of Axitinib, used to treat kidney cancer, cost ₹41,737. A 50 ml bottle of Cetuximab, used to treat head, colon, rectum and neck cancer cost ₹94,544.


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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 11:08:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/most-anti-cancer-drugs-costly-despite-price-cap-says-aidan/article26689274.ece

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