Earlier this year, pharma companies such as Cipla, Sun Pharma, Wockhardt, Lupin, Alembic had submitted a proposal to the HC on the same issue. The companies had argued that relabelling existing drug stocks in the market with new prices notified by the NPPA under the new Drug Price Control Order is not required as the distributors have been asked by the companies from time to time to comply with NPPAs revised price lists. Also, they argued, the revised price lists had been circulated to dealers and state drug controllers, as required under the DPCO.
The drug companies had submitted that the NPPA itself, in its documents, filed before court had said there is no mandatory requirement to relabel new revised prices on products that have been manufactured prior to the date on which the respective notification came into effect. NPPA did not agree with these proposals and insisted that the drug packs already in the shelves of chemist shops be taken back and relabelled with the new prices.
The drug companies will submit a new proposal to the court shortly, which they claim would be a practical solution acceptable to both sides. In the meanwhile, the court posted the matter for September 18.
During the hearing, counsels on behalf of the pharma companies informed the court that entire process of relabelling the existing drugs stocks in the market will be too onerous as there are too many drugs that have been directed to relabelled. The counsels pointed out that the labels can be shot off to distributors, who will be relabelling the drugs and that the companies will have to work in a supervisory manner to make sure that the process is carried out correctly. On the other hand, counsel for NPPA said a consumer would not know that he has the right to buy the drugs at rates lesser than the one printed on them, if no relabelling is carried out.
Later, the high court suggested that a notice could be put up at all cash counters in medicine shops informing the customer that he has the right under the provisions of the DPCO, 2013 to avail medicines at subsidised rates.