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Government curbing drug prices

It refers to welcome news item about central government bringing new curbs on drug prices covering even non-essentials as per NITI-Aayog proposal to link prices of all drugs – essential and others – with a new index. Presently, only 17 per cent medicines are regulated for being under an essential category. Such regulation will bring big relief to people where presently some branded medicines kept in a non-essential category have huge price difference according to name and fame of brand-name and reputation of the manufacturing company like in case of diazepam-5 sold as Calmpose and Valium-5 with the heavy price difference.

But at the same time, such an order should also cover generic medicines which at times have Maximum-Retail-Price (MRP) even up to four times their respective wholesale price. Box of 10 strips of 10 capsules each of generic substitute of Absolute 3G having Rs 1500 MRP is available in wholesale medicine market of Bhagirath Palace (Delhi) at just Rs 425. It is noteworthy that generic medicines are usually purchased for government supply and leaving such a big margin between MRP and wholesale price is evidently for bribing purchase officers.

Likewise, charges for medical tests should also be regulated. A reputed pathological laboratory based in Delhi but covering other cities as well have dual pricing for medical tests. Charges for ordinary patients are much higher than those having cards of Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) in the same laboratory. 

Madhu Agrawal

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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