[Ip-health] DNA India: Government planning to control prices of anti-cancer drugs

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Mon Nov 24 05:32:47 PST 2014

Government planning to control prices of anti-cancer drugs
Sunday, 23 November 2014 - 7:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

In a bid to make a dozen anti-cancer drugs
<http://www.dnaindia.com/topic/drugs> affordable to the masses, the National
Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority
has invited comments from the pharmaceutical industry and other
stakeholders to bring these drugs under price control.

As per the recommendations by Mumbai's Tata Memorial Centre, drugs such as
Trastuzumab, Erlotinib, Irinotecan, Lenalidomide, Capecitabine, All Trans
Retinoic Acid (ATRA), Bendamustine, Rituximab, Temozolomide (TMZ),
Zoledronic acid, Megestrol acetate and Letrozole should be added to the
national list of essential medicines.

According to NPPA, the recommendations are based on factors such as the
ability of the drug to improve the overall survival (OS) chances of the
patient. The other factors include higher priority to drugs that have the
potential to cure a fraction of patients versus those that have been proven
to only prolong lives; the number of patients potentially impacted in India
based on data from population <http://www.dnaindia.com/topic/population> based
cancer registries of the National Cancer Registry Programme; the
non-availability of alternative medications of the same or other
pharmacological class that can act as a reasonable 'substitute'; and price
of the drug to patients and the differential in price between various

Out of Rs 75,000 crore domestic pharma industry, the estimated size of the
anti-cancer market is around Rs 4000-5000 crore, with nearly 11 lakh cancer
patients across the country, said industry experts.

According to an expert, NPPA has taken a cautious step and asked for
recommendations and suggestions from the industry and all other
stakeholders. "While the move is welcome, the industry may not be very
happy with such recommendations. Because of this, some expensive drugs may
come under price control, affecting the pharma companies' margins and
profitability." NPPA has further said that any comments on the above draft
recommendations for addition and deletion from NLEM 2011 may be submitted
within a period of 2 weeks from the date of the notice.

Ranjit Kapadia, senior VP – pharma, Centrum Broking, said, "The consumers
will definitely be benefited if oncology drugs are brought under price
control. But what would be the impact on the pharma companies
<http://www.dnaindia.com/topic/pharma-companies> is difficult to estimate
at the moment. It will vary from one company to other, depending on the
percentage <http://www.dnaindia.com/topic/percentage> of oncology drug
portfolio of a particular company and how many units are sold in a year."

Kapadia further said that the anti-cancer market is a small market and a
downward price revision is unlikely to impact too many companies. "If such
a revision happens, pioneers such as Natco, Cipla, Dr. Reddy's and Biocon
may get impacted in a much higher way. NPPA has only asked for
recommendations which the companies can oppose, if they feel it will hurt
them strongly."

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