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Centre will regulate prices of 300 drugs, says Paswan

CHENNAI, AUG. 1. The retail prices of 300 essential and life-saving pharmaceutical drugs will be monitored and regulated by the Centre.

This is to ensure that the medicines are affordable to the common man and the manufacturers do not make undue profits, Ram Vilas Paswan, Union Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers, said here today.

The main objective was to evolve a pricing system, wherein the cost of the medicines to the users, inclusive of all taxes, should not be over 100 per cent of the production cost.

Citing an example, he said, if the production cost of a tablet is Rs. 5, its end price should not exceed Rs.10. The manufacturers should declare their cost of production.

Speaking to presspersons at Madras Fertilizers Limited's plant in suburban Manali today, Mr. Paswan said since local taxes added up significantly to the cost of the medicines and varied from one State to another, his Ministry favoured consensus on having a common low tax rate. Towards this, it was convening a meeting of the Finance and Health Ministers of all the States in New Delhi on August 18.

The list of 300 drugs has been selected by the Union Ministry of Health following a request from his Ministry.

The Centre, he added, "does not want to control (the pharmaceutical units), but the situation should not be exploited."

Rules ambiguous

Hinting that some of the existing rules governing pharmaceutical drugs were ambiguous, Mr. Paswan said already 74 drugs were "under the control" of the Government.

Only those drugs whose annual sales were worth over Rs. 4 crore figured in the list.

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