Ahead of the next meeting of the group of ministers (GoM) on amending the national pharmaceutical policy, two major health-related non-government organisations and an MP who is also on Parliament's standing committee on health have demanded that more medicines be brought under price control.
The GoM met today for the second time this week, and heard the views of the NGOs and Jyoti Mirdha, MP. ''We will sit at some time after the current Parliament session. I have to ask views of others because a few members were not there today,'' agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, who heads the GoM, told reporters.
The NGOs, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) and the All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN), and Mirdha also told the GoM that retail prices of medicines should be fixed on the basis of cost of production.
"Ideally, all 900 or so molecules being marketed should be brought under price control, as partial control will not be effective since manufacturers freely migrate from price-controlled drugs to those outside price control," Mirdha told journalists later. She added that prices of all patented and monopoly drugs should also be fixed.
Echoing these views, JSA joint convenor Amit Sengupta said, ''The redrafted policy should control prices of all essential medicines by fixing prices that are calculated on the basis of actual manufacturing costs and not on the prices that obtain in the pharma market today.''
Sengupta said JSA has also demanded that the practice of fixing bulk prices should be continued.
In its first meeting, the ministerial panel – set up to consider a cost-plus-profit pricing mechanism for 348 medications that are listed as essential drugs by the ministry of health and family welfare – heard the retail participants in the sector including Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) and the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists.
Apart from Pawar, the GoM, constituted in September 2009, includes health and family welfare minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma, and Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.