Initiating the process to overhaul the drugs pricing mechanism in the country, the Narendra Modi government is now planning to impose price caps on pharmaceutical consumables.
By the end of this month, government is planning to introduce a new index for pharmaceutical products that will become the benchmark for prices of medicines. Drug price regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) revises these prices annually based on wholesale price index (WPI).
Jagat Prakash Nadda, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, confirmed to Business Standard that his ministry was looking at capping prices of consumables. He said pharma companies would not only be fined but would also face punitive action, as the government was committted to protecting the interest of the common man
The list of essential drugs, which has already been expanded to include about 1,000 medicines, is set to swell up further, Nadda said. The minister claimed that medicines worth Rs six billion had already been sold via 135 outlets, under the government-run Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment (AMRIT) scheme. The total monetart benefit to cancer and cardiac patients under this initative was Rs 3.5 billion, Nadda stated further.
Despite the reservations of some states, the minister was confident that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious Ayushman Bharat scheme, a health cover for poor families under the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Swasthya Suraksha Mission, would be rolled out soon.
“By June 15, all the states in the country will sign the pact for the implementation of the scheme,” Nadda said. Ayushman Bharat aims to provide medical covers of up to Rs 500,000 to protect 500 million people from about 100 million families from weaker sections of society.
As of now, only four states and a union territory have inked agreements with the Centre for this initiative.