M A I N   N E W S

Prices of 866 medicines slashed
Some drugs to be cheaper by 74 per cent
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 31
The government today released the price reduction list of 866 generic medicines in the range of 0.26 per cent to 74.53 per cent by 11 leading manufacturers.

The margins, which came into effect on October 2, have been fixed at 15 per cent for wholesalers and 35 per cent for retailers.

The revised prices will be effective on the batches manufactured after October 2, 2006, and will reach the retail counters within four to six weeks.

Releasing the booklet containing the list of medicines here, Union Chemicals Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said the list was to be circulated among all stakeholders across the country for intense monitoring of compliance. "The companies are expected to carry out the reduction on a voluntary basis," he said.

"These medicines were earlier sold at a very high margin. The industry's initiative has subsequently brought down their rates," he said.

Mr Paswan said the government could only control the prices of 354 drugs categorised as essential and would appeal to the pharma sector to voluntarily reduce the prices of all drugs.

He admitted that some of the pharma companies were selling the drugs at 2000 per cent profit margin and the government could not act against them, as all these drugs were not categorised as essential.

The ministry sources said the government would come out with a notification in December after watching the compliance of the voluntary reduction by the companies and its benefits to the consumers.

They said the new Bill to monitor the pharma industry would come up during the Budget session and discussions were on with the all stakeholders.

The ministry has entrusted an independent agency and also National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) to verify the industry claims of price reduction, he added.

The drugs cover a wide range of therapeutic categories and several commonly used medicaments like analgesics, cough syrups, tonics and drugs meant to treat infectious diseases, bronchial disorders and antibiotics, anti-hypertensive, dermatological medicines, eye drops, disinfectants, gastrointestinal medicines, anti-diabetics etc are all part of the list.

As an example, the price of Gentamycin 20 ml has been slashed by 74.53 per cent and would now cost Rs 8.18.

The companies which have agreed to reduce the prices of select generic generic drugs include the members of Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA), Cipla and Medley Pharmaceuticals Limited. The ministry is also negotiating with more companies who are members of Indian Drugs Manufacturers Association (IDMA) to follow suit.

The companies which have reduced the trade margins for subsequent reduction of retail prices and the respective formulations are as follows: Alembic (109 packs), Cadila Healthcare (391), Wockhardt (101), Emcure Pharmaceuticals (10), Unichem Laboratories (16), Ranbaxy Laboratories (72), Lupin Ltd (68), Nicholas Piramal (18), Cipla Ltd (49), Alkem Laboratories (22) and Medley Pharmaceuticals (30).

He said consumers would be required to pay only the MRP printed on the label, which will be inclusive of all taxes. Till now, the taxes were additional. Making the MRP inclusive of taxes had been a ticklish issue in the absence of a uniform rate of sales tax, octroi and other entry taxes in states. However, the issue has been resolved and the pharma companies have agreed to bilingual labels, he added.

Mr Paswan said a proposal had also been made to start cancer medicine assistance scheme in all major cancer hospitals of the country. Under this scheme, medicines would be provided at 50 per cent of the market price to all cancer patients.

BPL families, handicapped persons and senior citizens would be provided cancer medicines free of cost under the scheme, he added.



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