Supreme Court of India (SC) on 15 July 2015 termed the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy, 2012 and the Drug Price Control order (DRCO) 2013 as unreasonable and irrational.
The three-judge bench headed by Justice TS Thakur and comprising Justice V Gopala Gowda and Justice R Banumathi asked the Department of Pharmaceuticals of Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers to pass a reasoned order on the issue within six months after hearing all parties concerned.
The apex court also asked the Union Government to review its market-based drug pricing policy within six months. The court also asked the government to file a copy of its decision on the representation of NGO which would file it in six weeks.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by NGO All India Drug Action Network alleging that the Market Based Pricing (MBP) was never used for any price regulatory purposes and this was making medicines costlier.
Points of argument in NGO’s plea
• It said that MBP was never used for any price regulatory purposes and under the new policy; simple average ceiling prices were, in many cases, higher than the market leader price.
• It sought inclusion of more life-saving medicines of diseases like diabetes and tuberculosis in the list of drugs whose prices would be regulated by the government.
• It also said that the price control must extend to various dosages, strength and combinations.
• The petition also said that under the new policy, the profit margin for drug manufacturers and dealers were in the range of 10-1300 percent
• It sought a direction from the SC to the Centre to continue with cost-based ceiling prices of all essential drugs.
• It also contended that the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) consisted of only 348 drugs and had left out many essential medicines from price control.
• It also sought directions to the government to bring medicines specially used in HIV-AIDS, cancer, mental health, chronic non-communicable diseases like asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, under price control mechanism
• It also pleaded for implementation of the Tamil Nadu model of public procurement to ensure all these essential drugs are available free of cost to those seeking treatment in public health facilities.
Under the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) 2013, Government controls prices of 348 drugs listed in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM).
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When: 15 July 2015