70% drop in prices of critical-care drugs expected as 75th I-Day gift

Representational Image
Representational Image

New Delhi: The prices of medicines used for treating cancer, diabetes and cardiac ailments are expected to come down significantly. The Central Government is exploring possibilities to implement the price cut and announce the same during the 75th-anniversary celebrations of India’s Independence.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya is to hold the final round of discussions with the drug manufacturing company representatives today, as a follow-up to the talks held on Friday. If the companies agree to the Government’s recommendations, the drug prices may come down by up to 70 per cent.

“The price regulation plan was already being considered. The Cabinet is to decide whether the announcement would be made on Independence Day”, said a senior official with the Union Health Department.

Rationalisation of prices

The Government is mooting to regulate drug prices as per the Trade Margin Rationalisation (TMR), thereby ensuring that the drug companies do get a profit, reasonable, but not exorbitant. If the companies do not take a favourable stand, the Government may bring regulations on the profit margin for the drugs used in long term. The Centre also moots revising the Centre’s list of essential medicines. If so, the drugs would come under the Government's regulation limits.

As of now, there is a regulation on the prices of medicines listed under the Centre’s essential medicines list. As many as 355 medicines including Paracetamol, antibiotics including Azithromycin, medicines to treat anaemia, vitamins and mineral supplements are on this list. The profit margin on these drugs has been fixed at 8 per cent in the wholesale market and 16 per cent in the retail market.

Meanwhile, the companies are permitted to increase the price of drugs not listed under essential medicines by up to 10 per cent every year.

Hefty profit on certain medicines 

According to a study conducted by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), about eight per cent of medicines which are priced at more than Rs 100 per tablet ensure double to five times profit to the companies while the profit ranges from five to ten times on 2.7 per cent of the medicines.

About 1.48 per cent of medicines attract more than ten times profit.

In 2018- 2019, the government ordered a price regulation using its special powers and checked the profit limit of 41 drugs used to treat cancer at 30 per cent.

This intervention could help reduce the price of the same medicines which were brought out in different names by different brands by up to 90 per cent.

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