India has capped the prices of 36 drugs, including those used to treat infections and diabetes, in its latest move to make essential medicines more affordable, a senior official of the country’s drug pricing authority said on Friday.The medicines join the 348 drugs deemed essential and that are therefore subject to price caps, covering up to 30 per cent of the total drugs sold in the country where less than 20 per cent of its people are covered by health insurance.
Global and Indian drugmakers have been hit by wide-ranging government-imposed price reductions in the last one year in India. Industry officials say prices in the country are already among the lowest in the world.
“This is a straight-forward, most predictable, overdue action which has been done by us,” the official at the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) said, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Drugmakers, including Cipla, Ranbaxy Laboratories, and Cadila Healthcare, are among the companies that will be affected by the latest decision, research firm AIOCD Pharmasofttech AWACS said.
An official at the Department of Pharmaceuticals, which controls the drug pricing authority, confirmed the price cap move, but declined to give details.Ciprofloxacin, a common antibiotic that is sold by many companies including Ranbaxy and Cipla , is among the drugs whose prices were capped by the latest order. The research firm said the cap would shrink the drug’s market value by 51 per cent.
People directly involved in the process told Reuters in June that the government was likely to raise the number of drugs that are in the essential medicines list and subject to price caps to improve affordability.
The NPPA is drawing up a list of mass consumption, essential life-saving drugs which it thinks should be included in the essential medicines list, said the senior official at the pricing authority on Friday. The recommendations will be sent to health ministry by mid-October, he said.
The authority in July had also capped the prices of more than 100 medicines that are not part of the essential medicines list. The pharmaceutical industry has challenged the move in local courts.