Home HEALTH medicine price cut: Government slashes prices of about 39 commonly-used drugs

medicine price cut: Government slashes prices of about 39 commonly-used drugs

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In a move to provide relief to patients, the government has slashed prices of about 39 drugs including anti cancer drugs, anti diabetes, anti viral, antibacterial drugs, antiretroviral drugs, anti-TB drugs, drugs used in Covid treatment, as it revised the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM).

The commonly used drugs which have been brought under price control include teneligliptin-an anti diabetes drug, popular anti TB drugs like Bedaquiline and Delamanid, Ivermectin used in Covid treatment, Rotavirus vaccine, among others.

Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya released the revised list of NLEM on Thursday evening at an event in Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has been working for a long time to extend price control on medicines. The experts working on the NLEM list deleted 16 odd drugs from the list.

“Some of these drugs have been discontinued, new therapies and better alternatives have been introduced. Therefore it was important to delete them,” said a senior government official. These include: bleaching powder, Erythromycin, antiretrovirals-Stavudine+Lamivudine, among others.

This government had begun an exercise for the revision of the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM), which was notified in 2015 and implemented in 2016.

This is the departure from the existing practice, where not all essential drugs will find their prices capped. The Standing National Committee on Medicines, was tasked with preparing the shortlist which medicines should be available in adequate numbers and assured quantity.

The committee headed by Balram Bhargava, secretary in the department of health research and director-general of the Indian Council of Medical Research, decided on it and sent their list to the second committee comprising, comprising with senior officials from NITI Aayog, health secretary and secretary in the department of pharmaceuticals, which decided which drugs are to be put under the price control.

“This is a departure from the existing mechanism in which all essential medicines automatically go under price control,” said a government official.

Under the earlier mechanism, the health ministry prepared a list of drugs eligible for price regulation, following which the department of pharmaceuticals under the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers incorporated them into Schedule 1 of the Drug Price Control Order. The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority then fixed the prices of drugs.

Medicines and devices listed in the NLEM must be sold at prices set by the NPPA, while those in the non-scheduled list are allowed a maximum annual price increase of 10%.

The committee took a cue from the World Health Organisation’s revised list of essential medicines.

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