[Ip-health] News: Economic Times (India)- NGOs to move SC against ministries over drug prices

Terri - Louise Beswick Terri at haiweb.org
Thu Aug 12 08:36:43 PDT 2010

NGOs to move SC against ministries over drug prices

12 Aug 2010, 0453 hrs IST,Khomba Singh,ET Bureau


NEW DELHI: Healthcare activists plan to take Union health ministry and
the chemical & fertilisers ministry to the Supreme Court (SC) for
failing to regulate prices of essential drugs seven years after the apex
court asked them to do so.


"The non implementation of the SC order amounts to contempt of court,
besides the huge bills patients have to pay," S Srinivasan managing
trustee of Baroda-based non-profit low cost standard therapeutics and
member of the All India Drug Action Network said. The group has joined
hands with another Gujarat-based NGO Medico Friend Circle and is
finalising the petition with the lawyers and expect to move the SC by
this month-end Mr Srinivasan said.


These health groups were among those who fought the case in the SC seven
years ago. In 2003, the SC had disbanded the pharma policy 2002,
agreeing with Karnataka High Court's view that the proposed pharma
policy would have diluted the price control regulation.


The SC had then asked the government to finalise a new list of essential
drugs and bring them under the ambit of price control. At present, drugs
sold in the country using 74 ingredients are under price control, though
drugmakers have stopped making medicines using about 30 of these
ingredients. For those outside price control, companies can raise their
prices up to 10% in 12 months.


After the government finalised a revised list of 354 essential drugs,
the chemicals & fertiliser ministry floated the new policy in 2006. The
government' plan to increase the number of medicines under price control
has been strongly opposed by the drugmakers, who say there is enough
competition in the market to keep the prices in check.


The matter was then referred to a group of ministers (GoM) in 2007 that
met four times, but failed to come to an agreement and did not make any
recommendations to the government. After the Congress-led government
returned to power in 2009, a new GoM led by agriculture & consumer
affairs minister Sharad Pawar was set up last September. Nearly a year
later, the GoM is yet to hold its first meeting, confirming fears of
health activists that policy is unlikely to see the light of the day any


The parliamentary standing committee on health led by Amar Singh
recommended regulation of prices of all drugs sold in the country.



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