New Delhi: The decision to decontrol 108 drug prices by The Union government raised eyebrows as the drugs used to treat tuberculosis, AIDS, diabetes and heart ailments — has jacked up their prices. In some cases, prices have seen an unbelievable rise.
The price of an anti-cancer tablet Glivec has risen from Rs 8,500 to Rs 1.08 lakh.
Plavix, used to treat blood pressure and heart ailments, will cost Rs 1,615, against the earlier Rs 147. An anti-rabi injection, Kamrab, priced at Rs 2,670, will now cost Rs 7,000.
Just before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US, the government asked the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), an autonomous body, to withdraw its May 2014 guidelines on drug price control.
The Ministry of chemicals and fertilizers had, on May 30, 2013, delegated powers to the NPPA to regulate the prices of life-saving drugs. This resulted in a significant reduction in prices of a broad spectrum of drugs. The Modi government extended this regulation to even lifesaving drugs for cancer, HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and asthma. The government later withdrew these guidelines, ahead of Modi’s visit to the US.
NPPA had capped the prices of these 108 drugs, in addition to the already listed 800 essential drugs, to improve their affordability, in the wake of official figures that there are 4.1 crore diabetes, 4.7 crore coronary heart disease, 22 lakh TB, 11 lakh cancer and 25 lakh HIV/AIDS patients in the country.