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      Pharma firms to sell drugs to govt at 50% of retail price

      Posted AtBusiness-Standard

      Domestic pharmaceutical companies have agreed to supply drugs for government procurement at half the cost of their maximum retail price (MRP). The move follows recommendations made by the Prime Minister's Task Force on the new drug policy.

      However, the domestic sector, under the banner of Indian Drug Manufacturers Association (IDMA), has demanded that non-patented drugs should be completely exempted from price control.

      The association has also strongly objected to the Task Force proposal for debranding drugs for public purchases, according to the recommendations submitted by IDMA to the government.

      Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) - the other industry association is also in favour of quoting prices at 50 per cent of the MRP. IPA represents the top Indian pharma companies including Ranbaxy, Dr Reddy's Lab,Wockhardt, Nicholas Piramal, Sun Pharma, Lupin, Cadila Healthcare.

      D G Shah, secretary general, IPA said, "we have proposed a one year price freeze for the drugs under national list of essential medicines (NLEM 2003) and therafter an inflation linked price increase, with a transparent mechanism for price monitoring outside Drug Price Control Order (DPCO)." By quoting the price at 50 per cent of MRP for government purchases, the industry is anticipating a loss of Rs 3,500 crore annually.

      Suresh Kare, president, IDMA-the largest industry association with over 600 member units, said that "our member companies have made a consensus on the highly discounted drug supply for government purchases." However, we are not in favour of de branding. We strongly feel that this proposal is impractical and very hazardous.

      The move will shift the responsibility of making the right choice from doctor to the pharmacist who promotes sale based on margins, irrespective of the quality. This may also lead to proliferation of spurious and sub-standard drugs.

      We recommend that companies be allowed to compete for government supplies irrespective of whether they supply generics or branded products," he added.

      The local industry has a strong reservation against the Task Force's recommendation of a price ceiling on 272 essential drugs in addition to 39 drugs under DPCO.

      The industry has also suggested that drug prices will not go up in the essential list as competition in the market automatically keeps a check on the prices.

      "So it would be ideal to have price monitoring system outside other than a price control system for all these non patented drugs," IDMA sources said.

      The IDMA has also suggested to reduce the excise duty on these drugs from the present 16 per cent to 8 per cent.

      September 19, 2005


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