Millennium Post

We will consult pharma cos before any move to control drug prices: Govt

Government will not take any decision on drug price control without holding discussions with the pharmaceutical industry and other stakeholders, Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said on Thursday.

“We take every step very carefully when it comes to the issue of drug price control as we do not want to take even a single step without holding discussions with the industry,” Ahir said at an Assocham conference here.

He said the government wants the prices of medicines to be affordable for general public but at the same it wants the industry to flourish.

“We need to promote the industry for sure, this is certain,” said the minister. In order to bring down drug prices, a high-level panel has recommended capping the trade margins at 35 per cent on all the drugs with MRP of above Rs 50.

For drugs priced Rs 20-50, the panel has proposal to cap the margin at 40 per cent. It also recommended capping the margin at 50 per cent for the drugs priced from Rs 2-20. However, the panel proposed no capping of trading margin on the medicine priced up to Rs 2. Trading margin is the margin which wholesalers and retailers earn by selling the medicines. Besides, the committee has also recommended capping margins on all drugs including stents and orthopedic implants.

The minister said the government will soon come out with a policy on medical devices. “We want that APIs (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) and bulk drugs should be manufactured locally within India,” Ahir said.

Terming India as the “medical store of the world,” the minister said there are over 10,000 big and small drug manufacturing industries across the country. However, he expressed concern that over 5,000 industries engaged in drug manufacturing do not carry out research and development process, which is the need of the hour.

Besides, Director General of Health Services Jagdish Prasad said that with a view to improve drug manufacturing standards in India, the government has asked drug manufacturers to set up research and development systems to ensure they follow quality standards.
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