NATIONAL

Drug prices rise by 6-7 per cent

Bindu Shajan Perappadan

NEW DELHI: The Central Government's recent announcement to merge local taxes with the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) has pushed up drug costs by 6 to 7 per cent.

With people grappling with their household budgets following the steep rise in the prices of essential commodities, consumers will now have to spend more on buying the same drug selling without any new value addition.

"What has happened in the drug market has not benefited the common man. The Government announced in October that local taxes on medicines would be combined with the MRP enabling customers to pay one combined cost. That logically should not have pushed up the drug prices as the sellers were instructed to only combine existing taxes with the MRP. What has happened, however, is that some companies have hiked the cost of drugs instead," said All-Delhi Chemist Association general secretary Kailash Gupta.

Drugs such as Roxid 150 mg (Alembic) which previously sold for Rs.67 now costs Rs.73.50; Simvotin 10 mg (Ranbaxy) earlier sold for Rs.96.50 is now selling at Rs.102.34; the price of Storvas 40 mg (Ranbaxy) has shot up from Rs.175.70 to Rs. 186.33; and Carnitor 500 mg (Elder) from Rs.155 to Rs.162.75.

Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited Executive Director Ramesh Adige said: "The variation in prices is a dynamic process depending on intense competitive pressure. The inflation rate now stands at around 7 per cent and in real terms the prices of most drugs have not gone up."

A member of the Confederation of Indian Pharma Industry said: "Previously, consumers would rarely pay the local tax but with this new rule companies have combined tax with the MRP and hiked the cost by 6-7 per cent. Some have also hiked the actual cost of the drug and are selling the same drug at a higher cost. The customer is paying more for the same medicine without any value addition."

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