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NGO Approaches SC Against New Drug Policy

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Weeks after the government announced a new policy to bring all essential medicines under price control, All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN), the NGO that fought for the policy through a decade long public interest litigation (PIL), has opposed its implementation.

The NGO, along with its co-petitioners, such as Jan Swasthya Sahayog, filed a fresh intervention application on July 5 in the PIL pending before Supreme Court to quash the government's National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy 2012 and the subsequent Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) 2013.

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Stating that the simple average formula (notified under the new policy) to determine the ceiling price gives high ceiling prices and legitimises the high profit margins already present in the market, AIDAN wanted more stringent regulations to turn medicines affordable.

The move, if approved by the Supreme Court, will pose fresh trouble to the pharmaceutical industry, as DPCO 2013, which replaced the old system of price fixation based on exact input costs to the simple average of medicine retail price -was considered industry friendly in the long run. Even the short term hit to the profits, as claimed by the industry, are being refuted by AIDAN in the petition. 

The petitioners have sought SC directive to bring all fixed dose combinations, patented drugs including drugs under voluntary license, life saving drugs, and molecules in the same therapeutic class in all their presentations and dosages under price control. It also wanted the government to set up a committee of experts to list crucial, life-saving medicines that enumerates drugs that have been left out of the current list of National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM 2011), to enumerate drugs that have been included in the Essential Drug Lists of States but which are not currently included in the NLEM 2011, and bring out a new comprehensive essential, life saving drugs list for the purpose of price regulation.

It also wanted to cap the ceiling price of  all drugs of the same therapeutic chemical class wherever  possible at the same level as the price controlled drug being migrated from
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