The Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers Ram Vilas Paswan, who heads the pharmaceutical advisory forum has instructed drug companies that they will have to reduce their prices by atleast 4.58% since the excise duty on drugs has been scaled back from 16% to 8%.
He also promised to strengthen the infrastructure of the pricing watch-dog - the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) - by introducing a 24 hour helpline for customers who want to complain about drug companies over-charging on certain products. (For our previous posts on the NPPA please click here)
Additionally he also requested State Governments to ensure that doctors from government hospitals prescribed only generic medicines. To this end one generic drug store would be started in every district and these stores would be supplied by the public sector pharma companies.
The Minister must be complimented on his efforts to ensure more affordable medicines for the public. It’s a pleasure to see a well-rounded effort to tackle the price problem from all angles. The usual approach has been to indulge in some ‘patent rhetoric’ after which the matter is swept under the carpet. The Minister's approach is indicative of the fact, that the complex problems regarding access to affordable medicines in this country cannot be pinned to any single issue such as patents.