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SC asks govt. to review drug pricing policy

Observing that there is an impression the government favours pharmaceutical companies and is not pro-poor, the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the government to have a re-look at the drug pricing policy to help make life-saving medicines affordable for the common man.

A three-judge Bench of Justices T.S. Thakur, V. Gopala Gowda and R. Bhanumathi asked the Department of Pharmaceuticals under the Ministries of Health and Chemical and Fertilisers to re-examine the National Pharmaceutical Policy (NPP) 2012 and Drug Pricing Control Order (DPCO) of 2013 in light of several recommendations made by NGO All India Drug Action Network.

The NGO, represented by senior advocate Colin Gonsalves had in a public interest petition, raised objections on the formula for drug pricing.

It said the formula institutionalised “super-profits in the guise of price control, excluded from price control life-saving medicines for diseases such as malaria and TB, excluded all fixed dose combinations which amount to 50 per cent of the market.”

The NGO said the government’s pricing policy further excluded essential medicines belonging to the same chemical class, besides drugs provided in the national health programmes such as for HIV, diabetes, hypertension and anaemia, medicines with appropriate dosages for children and patented medicines.

Justice Thakur asked the government to consider the NGO’s plea and questioned the government on why medicines for HIV, TB, maternal health were excluded from the list of 348 drugs included in DPCO 2013.

“The impression is that there is a powerful lobby and you (government) is not pro poor and acting under pressure from pharma companies,” Justice Thakur observed

The court gave the NGO six weeks to file its representation with the Department of Pharmaceuticals. The government, after due consideration with experts, should get back in six months. In case, the government rejects the suggestions of the NGO, the reasons have to be given in writing.

Appearing for the government, Additional Solicitor-General Pinky Anand countered that the pricing policy was formulated after due and deliberate consultations with the objective to make essential drugs affordable for the common man.

Ms. Anand further submitted that the list of drugs under the DPCO 2013 was comprehensive, and the government would look into whether any drugs have been left out, in which specific case it would take appropriate action.


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Printable version | Jun 21, 2021 1:43:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-asks-govt-to-review-drug-pricing-policy/article7426659.ece

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