New drug policy gets Cabinet's nod

It proposes a market-based pricing formulation to fix the price

The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved a new pharmaceutical policy which suggests adopting a market-based pricing formulation to fix the price of essential medicines.

Once adopted, the new formula may lead to a marginal drop in the price of 348 drugs, most of which are procured in bulk quantities by government hospitals.

Though the new price ceiling will cover more medicines than the 74 drugs which are on the national list of essential medicine at the moment and are under price control, the Cabinet decision will leave out two-thirds of drugs sold from thousands of chemist and pharmacist shops all over the country.  

“The National Pharmaceutical Pricing policy has been approved by the Cabinet with an objective to put in place a regulatory framework for pricing of drugs to ensure their availability at reasonable prices,” an official source said.

“The National List of Essential Medicines is primarily meant for state-funded health care which covers about 16 per cent of total population, that too in many cases partially. It has little relevance to prescription of drugs by doctors in private clinics. Since all medicines are essential to patients, price control should cover them all,” said C M Gulhati, a former consultant to the World Health Organisation.

The Union Cabinet accepted the recommendations of a Group of Ministers, headed by Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, which decided to take the average of prices of all brands of medicines having one per cent of market share to determine the price of a particular medicine.  

Public health activists, however, claimed that the Cabinet and GoM decision was in violation of a Supreme Court directive in which the apex court had asked the government to stick to “cost-based pricing” formula, which if adopted, will lower medicine prices substantially.

The Cabinet decision, on the other hand, would more or less legitimise the current exorbitantly high prices of essential medicines as there would be only token reduction in their prices, non-governmental organisation People’s Health Movement said in a statement.

Earlier, Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram had reportedly objected to the GoM recommendations. But on Thursday, the Cabinet approved them.

 Incidentally, the GoM was set up in 2005 but it sat on the new policy for a long time.
The process picked up speed after the Supreme Court reprimanded the Centre for its failure to control spiralling drug prices.

Post office modernisation

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday has cleared a proposal to modernise 1.55 lakh post offices across the country over the next two years at a cost of over Rs 4,909 crore.

As per the plan, all post offices will be connected through a computer network. This will enable the Department of Posts to provide facilities similar to core banking system, besides efficient delivery of services, disbursal of government subsidies and seamless access of its services, said a statement.

Assembly elections 2019 | Get the latest news, views and analysis on elections in Haryana and Maharashtra on

For election-related news in Maharashtra, click here

For election-related news in Haryana, click here

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
Comments (+)