Delhi HC scraps Government’s power to cap condom prices
Delhi High Court on Friday revoked two orders of the pharma pricing authority to cap condom prices, saying these were “illegal and unsustainable”.
A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw set aside the November 4, 2013 and July 10, 2014 orders of National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) by which a ceiling was put on the prices of condoms by including it in the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO).
“The orders of NPPA dated November 5, 2013, and July 10, 2014, are illegal and unsustainable. In the result, both the said orders are hereby set aside,” the court said.
The court’s verdict came on the plea of two pharma firms, Reckitt Benckiser and J K Ansell Ltd (JKAL), which had contended that their products were ‘devices’ and not ‘medicines’ and thus would not fall under the DPCO and hence, no cap can be put on their prices.
On the other hand, the government said if luxury condoms were removed from the DPCO, then the manufacturers would flood the market with their expensive varieties and make their lesser-priced contraceptives scarce.
In their petition, the two pharma firms had claimed that their products are luxury products “meant for pleasure” and had sought clarification on whether the current ceiling would apply only to utility condoms and whether NPPA was proposing to fix a separate cap on “pleasure condoms”.
They had also argued that the low ceiling price would force bigger companies to stop production, which would have a negative effect on population control measures. The government, however, was of the view that since condoms helped prevent diseases, they fell under the classification of ‘medicines’ and hence, their prices can be controlled.
The government also maintained that since condoms were currently in the national list of essential medicines, there could be no gradations like luxury and ordinary, where drugs are concerned.
Earlier, the court had queried as to what was the issue if consumers were willing to pay for premium or luxury male contraceptives.
The Centre is expected to file an appeal against the High Court order, sources said.