Pharma Policy: Another Bitter PIL Filed In SC

New Delhi, September 23: | Updated: Sep 24 2003, 05:30am hrs
The much-awaited Pharmaceutical Policy 2002, announced in January last year, will face yet another major hurdle as a fresh public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Supreme Court to stall its full implementation.

The new petition, filed recently by an NGO- All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN) and others has called for bringing all the essential medicines under price control and to have a price monitoring mechanism for drugs which are not even in the essential medicines list so as to make it available at reasonable prices.

The ministry of chemicals and fertilisers is already fighting a legal battle over the implementation of the pharma policy against a Karnataka High Court order stalling its implementation, which along with the latest PIL will come up for hearing on October 9.

The pharma industry is not too pleased with the idea of including around 350essential medicines under price control and feels that it will take it back by almost 20 years and will defeat the very purpose of implementing the Drug price Control Order (DPCO), which aims to free the industry from the rigours of price control.

The ministry is also of the opinion that such excessive control can have serious adverse implications on the pharmaceutical industry, the consumer and the health delivery system.

In an environment where market forces determine the prices and even essential commodities are outside the purview of government price regulation, controlling essential drugs will only mean reduction in availability, which will make the common man suffer even more, BK Raizada, advisor to Ranbaxy Laboratories told FE.

It is not necessary that the price of a drug, which not under price control, will shoot up as market forces play a much bigger role in keeping the prices of such drugs under control, Alembic resident director ND Rajpal said.

India needs to recognise that it is a part of the global village where market creates its own equilibrium and with almost the lowest price in the world for drugs and pharmaceuticals, an efficient industry does not need the suffering of over regulation, Mr Raizada added.

AIDAN in its petition has also called for allowing manufacturing and marketing of only those single ingredients formulations that are referred to in pharmacology textbooks. This, the industry feels, is not relevant as far as drug policy is concerned.

AIDAN in its plea has called for ensuring that all medicines needed for important public health problems such as tuberculosis, malaria, leprosy, diabetes, hypertension, heart care, eye care and the like to be marked only as generic preparations. The industry on the other hand feels that its is practically impossible.

The implementation of the Pharma Policy 2002 has been hanging fire for quite some time now after a PIL was filed in the Karnataka High Court in November last year. A special leave petition was filed by the ministry against the order of the Karnataka High Court seeking setting aside of the order.

Industry apart, the ministry is also of the opinion that excessive control on drug prices will go counter to the announcement made by the finance minister in his Budget speech earlier this year and the pharmaceutical policy, which aims at reducing the span of price control substantially.

Market forces play a much bigger role in adjusting or bringing down the prices, said one of the industry player.