AIDCOC urges union health ministry to bring medicines in the NLEM list under DPCO

Peethaambaran Kunnathoor, ChennaiTuesday, July 10, 2012, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The All India Drugs Control Officers’ Confederation (AIDCOC) has urged the union health ministry to bring the prices of 348 medicines included in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2011 under Drugs Price Control Order (DPCO).

In a representation to union health minister Gulam Nabi Azad, AIDCOC secretary general Ravi Uday Bhaskar said that the government had promised capping of prices of all essential drugs under NLEM in the pharmaceutical policy 2012, but it has not taken any concrete step towards fulfilling it. He also wanted the ministry to rationalise the difference between the ex-factory price and the MRP of the medicines as the profit margins are exceeding more than 1000 per cent on some of the formulations.

According to him, most of the times, actual ex-factory price is just one third of the printed Maximum Retail Price (MRP) or list price.

Quoting World Health Organization’s statistics, Uday Bhaskar said that currently the national production of drugs and pharmaceuticals in India has crossed lakh crore. Unfortunately, 50-65 per cent of the country’s population has no access to essential medicines when the country is in a strong position in the case of drugs production.

While apprehensive of the future, the AIDCOC secretary general apprised the minister that the prices of medicines might increase to a larger extent in the coming years due to current government policies which would make the situation worse. He pointed out that a good number of people are enlisted under the BPL category every year and they are never able to come out of it because of over expenditure just for health care problems. “90 per cent of these expenses are for buying medicines only. If they have to overcome the situation, the prices of drugs, including essential medicines, should be capped,” he said.

AIDCOC further argues for a strong price control mechanism for all countries including the developed ones to ensure every person’s accessibility to medicines. The Hathi Committee constituted in 1974 recommended for price cap for 347 medicines by bringing them under the DPCO. But the figure was later reduced to 142 in 1987. But in 1995 the number was again brought down to 74 in the list.

Uday Bhaskar said since 1979 control over the prices of drugs is being reduced and more profitability is allowed through DPCO, leading to the present crisis.