New drug prices introduced! Will essential drugs face scarcity?

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Will the supply of essential drugs face shortage now? This is the question plaguing the minds of most people at the moment as the National pharmaceutical pricing policy and the Drugs Price Control Order 2013 will be introducing some new prices for essential medicines.

Pricing policy change

Reports confirm that the National pharmaceutical pricing policy and the Drugs Price Control Order 2013 have fixed new prices for necessary drugs that will be effective from July 29th. This sudden price rise will be affecting the medicine market and may lead to a shortage of medicines under control.

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) on the June 14th had carried out revisions of the first lot of drugs. It has given a window period of about 45 days to the pharmaceutical companies to implement the price revision of 151 formulations. The list includes some medicines like metronidazole combinations, rifampicin combinations, ibuprofen, insulin, dexamethazone combinations, carbamazepine etc whose prices have been fixed.

Drug shortage in offing?

In the National capital area, an arbitrary check was carried out at some of the retail chemists who dispense these medicines. The result showed that the existing quota of the drugs have been resent by the retail outlets, to the wholesalers and the manufacturers for relabeling. Even the new labels have still not reached the retailers and this may result in a dearth of these medical formulations.

The retailers decided to send the stocks back as they preferred to take a lesser complicated route. Talking about the recent change in regulations a chemist from Ghaziabad was heard stating
“Some companies had asked us to sell the existing stocks with a reduced price as per the new prices. But that is not practical as we purchased them at higher prices and no clarification was made on the trade margin and other logistics.”

Wait for new labels

The retailers at the moment are keeping their fingers crossed as they wait in anticipation for the new medicine labels to arrive. These are essential for the people and the replenishment of the new stock essential, feel the chemists.

The chemists feel that the Government needs to take the process slower as the existing stocks should be dispensed before the new price implementation is carried out. Is it true that the chemists and the companies are working hand in hand to force the newly priced drugs in the market?

The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) was certainly not against the idea of relabeling though the State Drug controller have been told to make sure the drugs are available with the price changes. The new pricing policy affirms that “the ceiling of prices will be done based on the simple average of the prices of all brands of that drug that have a market share of at least one per cent.”

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