A pharmacy shop assistant in Kolkata (file photo: AFP/Getty Images)
A parliamentary committee has recommended that price caps should be extended to all drugs sold in India. The law allows the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) regulator to fix prices of drugs on a list of essential medicines, thereby keeping prices in check.
Analysts say that just 12 per cent of the medicines sold nationwide are currently under price caps, including 348 drugs classified as essential medicines. The government regulates the prices of all other medicines, and companies are allowed to hike their prices by only up to 10 per cent in a year.
The standing committee on chemicals and fertilisers, a panel of 31 lawmakers, noted in a report tabled in parliament on Monday that all medicines should be available in the market at an affordable price.
"The committee recommend that the scope of price control needs to be enlarged to make all the drugs available, especially life saving drugs in all parts of the country," the committee's report said.
According to Reuters, all the drugs on the government's HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis control programmes are likely to be added to the list of drugs subject to price caps.
Price caps have hit both local and foreign drugmakers in India and have been opposed by many in the industry, who have said drug prices in the country are already among the lowest in the world.
Meanwhile, the government earlier allowed pharmaceutical companies to hike rates of 509 essential medicines by 3.84 per cent from April 1. These are used for treating various ailments like diabetes, hepatitis and cancer.
The decision was welcomed by Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) secretary general DG Shah. “It is a part of the policy. Pharmaceutical companies don't get a chance to hike prices (more than once) a year. This price hike is linked to inflation,” he told PTI.