Published On:September 5 2007
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Pharma industry seeks status quo on policy

Mumbai: Top representatives of the pharmaceutical industry have called for status quo to be maintained on the existing drug policy, where prices are controlled on only 74 of a list of 354 drugs.

The industry's plea came even as the Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, spoke from the Capital on the same issue and indicated that the new drug policy could come up for approval by the month-end. The new drug policy proposes to bring all 354 drugs under price control.

The Government's desire to expand the coverage of price control would have disastrous consequences, said Mr Ajay Piramal, who heads the Confederation of Indian Industry's (CII) National Committee on Drugs and Pharmaceuticals, besides being Chairman of drug-maker Nicholas Piramal India Ltd (NPIL).

Stringent controls on prices inhibits the Indian drug company's capacity to invest in research, at a time when it faces stiff competition and challenges because of the product-patent regime, he said.

The pharmaceutical industry has witnessed a decline in overall growth rates, between five per cent to eight per cent, due to factors such as the implementation of value-added tax (VAT), and increased investments on research to keep the momentum going at a time when product-patents are protected.

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He pointed out that the Government could monitor drugs on the National List of Essential Medicines to keep control on abnormal price increases. Government agencies could procure at a ceiling price of 50 per cent of the maximum retail price and ensure that patients get the benefits of generic products by regulating trade margins.

Other drug company topbrass present at the interaction included the Pfizer's Managing Director, Mr Kewal Handa, the Hikal's Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, Mr Jai Hiremath, the NPIL's, Dr Swati Piramal, and the Indian Drug Manufacturers Association's, Mr Daara Patel.

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