The price of 651 essential drugs has come down by 6.73% on average from April 1, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Monday.
He said the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) had been able to fix the ceiling prices of 651 medicines so far out of the over 870 scheduled drugs listed under the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM).
Because of the capping of ceiling prices, the cost of 651 essential drugs on an average had already come down by 16.62%, the Minister said. Even if the prices were to go up by 12.12% this year, the capping would help to offset the hike, according to the Minister.
The Health Minister, in a series of counter-tweets to what he called was an “answer to president of the Indian National Congress Mallikarjun Kharge on his misleading tweet about Essential Medicine Price Rise”, said: “A company can increase the price of medicines with effect from April 1, 2023, to the extent of 12.12% of the valid ceiling price of 651 essential medicines linked to Wholesale Price Index (WPI). But even if the company were to increase the price in full, an average reduction of 6.73% is estimated.”
The Minister added that according to the provision under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 2013, every year, pharma companies could increase or decrease the prices of medicines according to the WPI.
But in November 2022, the government revised the list and prices of essential medicines. Under DPCO, 2013, the work of revising the applicable ceiling price of such notified drugs had been initiated by the NPPA, the government regulatory agency that controls the prices of pharmaceutical drugs in India. “So far, new ceiling prices of 651 out of 870 essential medicines have been notified. Due to which the approved ceiling price of medicines has decreased by an average of 16.62%. As a result, consumers will save an estimated ₹3,500 crore annually,” the Minister said.
He also tweeted that the Janaushadhi campaign had created competition in the market, as a result of which pharma companies did not increase the price to the extent allowed.
The World Health Organization, in its note on Essential Medicines in Southeast Asia, said that an estimated 40% of health budgets in low- and middle-income countries were spent on medicines, with much of the cost borne out-of-pocket by patients. “Widespread health system inefficiencies mean that up to a quarter of spending on medicines is wasted due to poor procurement and irrational use, substandard and expired medicines. There has been under-investment in supply chain systems and regulatory systems as well as inadequate monitoring of medicines management,” it said