An Affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) Recipient of Noble Peace Prize, 1985

IDPD Condemns move to Decontrol Drug Prices

19 December 2016
Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) has taken strong exception to the central government's move to dismantle the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) and to delink price control from the 370-plus essential drugs with a purpose to fix the price of the medicines as per the desire of the government. Raising the caution over this move Dr S S Soodan- President IDPD, Dr Arun Mitra- Sr Vice President IDPD and Dr Shakeel Ur Rahman- General Secretay IDPD have said that this is a totally retrograde anti people and anti national step. It will lead to increase in the prices of most of the medicines which the poor people of our country even now find difficult to afford. The NPPA was established, inter alia, to fix/revise the prices of controlled bulk drugs and formulations and to enforce prices and availability of the medicines in the country, under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 1995. The NPPA is assigned the job to implement and enforce the provisions of the Drugs (Prices Control). It also monitors the prices of decontrolled drugs in order to keep them at reasonable levels. The organization is also entrusted with the task of recovering amounts overcharged by manufacturers for the controlled drugs from the consumers. It is supposed to render advice to the Central Government on changes/revisions in the drug policy and to render assistance to the Central Government in the parliamentary matters relating to the drug pricing. The argument being forwarded is that it will add to competitiveness, promote growth of pharma industry and thus attract new investment. This argument is totally flawed as the price control affects only 12 per cent of the total domestic market. About 88 per cent of the drug market is not under the price control. More over it has been observed that after the Drug Price Control Order 2013 the sales of medicines increased by nearly 40% as the medicines became more affordable to the people. The whole exercise is being done to please the foreign multinational giants in the pharma industry. It is well known to everyone that after the visit of our Prime Minister to the USA in September 2014 where he had a separate meeting with the Pharma lobby, the NPPA withdrew its order in the Delhi High Court on control of prices of non essential medicines. That had led to manifold increase in the prices of the anti HIV and anti Cancer drugs. At one time the government established Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (IDPL), Hindustan Antibiotics and Vaccine producing centre at Kasauli as the public sector enterprises, but these were totally ignored later on by the previous governments. These sectors had in fact produced and supplied cheap bulk drugs not only to our people but to the people in the poor developing countries around the world. The Indian Pharmaceutical industry grew many times over the years and came out with cheap drugs. But after the WTO regime became effective and new patent laws were enforced the whole process got reversed. The production of drugs is not hampered by price control. On the contrary the price control helps the poor. More the demand, more the production and the R&D. Therefore we demand that government should leave this idea in background and make the NPPA more effective and lay stress on establishing Public Sector Units (PSU) to produce cheap and bulk drugs.

Dr Arun Mitra