The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority’s (NPPA’s) 2014 notifications that fixed the maximum retail price of 108 anti-diabetic and cardiovascular drugs.
A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur dismissed Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance’s appeal against the Bombay High Court’s September 26 order, which held that the government had not exceeded its powers when regulating the prices as “exploitative prices make medicines unaffordable”.
The Bombay HC had said “given the ever-increasing number of patients, these drugs which have to be taken throughout life… we do not feel government was exceeding its power in regulating”.
Alleging that the NPPA notifications issued in July last year were “arbitrary, unreasonable” and against the principle of natural justice, the alliance stated that the government had given a complete go-by to the essential criteria that is applicable only to schedule formulations. By including non-scheduled products, the government had basically done away with the classification of drugs on the ‘essentially criteria’, it said.
Further, it said essential drugs are under price control and would be under a controlled regime and their prices would be fixed by market forces.
Moreover, member companies who are manufacturers have not filed individually. Some members have accepted the notification. Thus, to make medicines available to all, prayer for staying or setting aside of guidelines/notifications, does not survive.
NPPA had issued notifications after it felt that the demand for drugs is prescription-driven and patients have little choice in exploiting the inter-brand price difference in drug formulations.