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Govt. may negotiate drugs prices


Government may go ahead with price negotiations for patented and new drugs, despite US reservations on the issue. The ministry of chemicals and fertilisers is finalising a mechanism under which prices of patented and new drugs would be negotiated, prior to grant of marketing approval.

Last year, a taskforce headed by Dr Pronab Sen, adviser Planning Commission, had also recommended the same. The need for such a mechanism becomes imperative, before any new patent is granted, and also to prevent prohibitively-priced drugs hitting the market.

In the absence of such a mechanism, there is no option, but to accept the price that is being sought by the company for a particular drug. Interestingly, the recent US-India initiative on healthcare proposed a review of the task force recommendation of a price monitoring system on patented medicines.

Government officials pointed out that the US review of the draft proposal was not discussed as there was no formal suggestion made by the US side. It is understood that the ministry has decided to include the proposal to monitor prices of patented drugs in its final draft of the pharmaceutical policy. The proposal was also part of the initial draft, which was circulated to stake holders for comments.

At present, prices of 74 drugs are fixed and revised by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, in accordance with the provisions of DPCO 95. Industry experts pointed out that world over, except in the US, there is some form of informal price negotiations on patented drugs, which helps in arresting huge increases in drug prices.

The ministry of chemicals and fertilisers is studying the model adopted by countries such as China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, France and Canada to prepare a framework to regulate prices of patented drugs. “China can be an important case to study as it is very similar to us in many respects,” a senior government official told TOI.

“If prices (of the patented drug) are prohibitive, we will keep a reference price, which will serve as a benchmark for the company,” he said.




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