AIDS, Cancer Drugs May Face Price Controls
NEW DELHI: It probably comes pretty close to what the doctor had ordered. The UPA government's emphasis on the aam aadmi has now reached the pharma industry. And if things go according to the government's prescription, prices of medicines for specific diseases may not swing freely.
The Prime Minister's task force has identified cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and costly antibiotics as the broad segments where the government should have a say over market forces.
The task force is now evaluating what criteria the government should apply on these therapeutic classes with large number of drugs so as to zero in on specific products for price controls.
According to a source, the panel is exploring if the price control filter it had identified in the yet-to-be-implemented '02 drug policy could be applied to select the drugs. It identifies a drug for price control based on the mass consumption nature and the absence of market competition.
The '02 policy says, if the total moving average total (MAT) value of any particular key ingredient of a drug (called the bulk drug) is more than Rs 25 crore and the market share of any of the formulators is 50% or more, then the drug should be under price controls.
The panel is now evolving a way to balance the discretion involved in choosing the therapeutic class with the objectivity of a mathematical formula so as to defend any opposition from the pharmaceutical industry.
Another alternative the task force is contemplating is applying this criteria on all the 354 essential drugs the health ministry has identified to filter out the key ones.
The task force, which is to finalise its report shortly, will also recommend setting up a committee to negotiate prices of patented drugs before marketing nod is given.
This committee would consist of representatives from the ministries of health, chemicals, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Central Drug Research Institute, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, besides experts from the therapeutic class the drug under negotiation belongs to.
August 23, 2005