Brace up for drug price hike: Paswan

New Delhi, March 28 | Updated: Mar 29 2005, 06:11am hrs
Union minister for steel and chemicals Ramvilas Paswan said despite precautionary measures incorporated in Patents (Amendment) Bill, the government could not rule out an increase in the prices of anti-cancer and HIV drugs. He also said the government would take a decision on increasing steel prices in a day or two.

Briefing mediapersons here on Monday, Mr Paswan, however, said, the government did have the necessary weapons to restrict price increases to ensure people would not be adversely affected in regard to life saving drugs.

Admitting there was still some confusion over the definition of essential drugs and life-saving drugs, he said two committees have been set up one by his ministry and a task force by the Prime Minister which would submit a report in a month or two to ensure that drug prices would remain affordable.

One cannot say if the prices of some drugs would go up or not, Mr Paswan said. As per the amended Patent Bill, patented medicines would be allowed into the country only after prices were negotiated, he pointed out.

When asked whether steel prices would also see a steep rise after April 1, he said given the fact that coking coal and iron ore prices had increased by 125% and 70%, respectively, in the international market, domestic steel prices would have to be reviewed.

If prices were not reviewed, the only party to benefit would be traders at the cost of the industry and consumers, he said.

The ministry would soon convene a meeting to review the prices, he added.