Leave drug pricing to fair competition, Cipla chief tells govt

Fair pricing of drugs should come through free competition and the drug pricing system in the country needs a fresh, reasonable approach, Cipla chairman YK Hamied said.

Speaking at the company's 79th annual general meeting, the Cipla chief said while the government needs to control prices of ''high priced monopoly drugs'', drug prices in general should be independent of government control. These should rather be left to market competition, he said.

''There is no positive drug policy in our country,'' he said, urging the government to control the prices of only ''high priced monopoly drugs''.

Drugs made by more than a few companies should be independent of this, he said.

''The only way prices can come down is by free competition,'' he said, adding that the company was willing to partner with the government to address the problem.

The government, at present, controls prices on 348 drugs (covering 650 medicines in different strengths and forms) mentioned in the essential drugs list.

Meanwhile, Cipla had reported a turnover of over Rs11,000 crore for the year ended March 2015. Net profit, however, has marginally declined due to statutory price reductions on several drugs and major investments in building the pipeline of medicines and newer products and capabilities, he said.

Cipla's managing director and global chief executive Subhanu Saxena told mediapersons that its new consumer health business is looking at the nutrition segment as well and a pipeline of products expected in the next 10 to 18 months.

Cipla has not undertaken any mega acquisitions in overseas and local markets, as there was no compulsion to do so, Saxena said.

However, he said, the company has been establishing a front-end marketing presence in different countries over the last couple of years through joint ventures and acquisitions.

Cipla expects to grow its presence in therapeutic segments, including respiratory medicines, HIV/antimalarial drugs and cancer medicines, in terms of expanded geographies, Saxena said, adding that for this the company needs to have a balanced presence across geographies.