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Drug Price Control Order vitiates National Pharma Pricing Policy, needs extensive changes: ASSOCHAM
The expected improvement in availability and affordability of essential medicines as envisaged under the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy(NPPP 2012) has been badly vitiated "to a large extent" by the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO 2013), a study of the pharma industry by the leading business chamber ASSOCHAM has revealed.
Charging the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) of "erroneous interpretation" of the pricing control order and "arbitrary and ultra vires exercise of power by it" beyond the scope of both the national pharma pricing policy and the drug price control order, an ASSOCHAM study on the Pharmaceutical industry said this was causing "chaos and unpredictability" for the industry "in terms of implementation and adherence to the NPPP."

The study also found that the drug price fixation mechanism "does not provide any distinction for formulations under NLEM that are sold as new drug delivery systems on development of which pharma industry had made considerable investments and had developed these for different set of patient groups. Included in this list were disposable tablets, gelatin coated tablets, bilayered tablets, sustained released tablets etc. Such specified drug formulations improved release pattern and stability of the drugs targeted to specific patient groups.

Pointing our several other anomalies and problems to industry posed by the wrong implementation of the price control order and pricing policy, ASSOCHAM study called for early formation of a robust regulatory framework for pricing of drugs "so as to ensure availability of required medicines- "essential medicines"- at reasonable prices. Such framework should also provide sufficient opportunity "for innovation and competition", the chamber said.

Releasing the study that deals with all aspects of Indian Pharmaceutical industry, ASSOCHAM Secretary-General D.S. Rawat said that it revealed the latent potential of the present 18 billion USD industry that is expected to grow to 45 billion USD by 2020.

Rawat said the study also showed how it could help access to healthcare, universal health coverage, expand and improve clinical trials, bio-similars, fixed dose drug combinations, active pharma ingredients, and improve proposed Drugs and Cosmetics Amendment Bill 2013.

"We believe that any pharmaceutical policy should benefit patients and support sustainable access to innovative products and availability of quality medicines while at the same time building a robust and competitive pharmaceutical environment which encourages and promotes manufacturing, R&D and innovations as well as continued investment," ASSOCHAM national council on drugs and pharmaceutical council chairman Bhaskar Iyer and co-chairman Umang Chaturvedi said.

The ASSOCHAM study expressed grave concern over the fact that "India was behind China, Thailand, Brazil and other countries in public healthcare."

This had resulted in Indian poor having to spend as much as 75 per cent of the healthcare costs from their pockets against 25 per cent in Thailand and 44 per cent in China. Health insurance coverage was only available 25 per cent of the population.

"There has been significant slowdown in Indian pharmaceutical industry," Rawat said.

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