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India plans further cuts to drug prices Posted 12/10/2012

The Indian government has announced plans to further extend price cuts on both generic and brand-name drugs in order to try to improve access to affordable medicines in the country.

According to The Wall Street Journal, India already sets prices for 74 drugs. But the government is now considering cutting prices on all drugs on its National List of Essential Medicines, which covers 348 essential medicines. The government distributed the list, which includes medications for the treatment of HIV/AIDS and ulcers, as well as anti-psychotics, sedatives, anaesthetic agents, lipid lowering agents, steroids and anti-platelet drugs, in order to address rising drug prices in India and to support its pledge to provide free generic drugs in India.

Meanwhile, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has written to the Department of Pharmaceuticals to amend the Drugs (Prices Control) Order of 1995. The NPPA wants the amendment in order to enable the agency to investigate how foreign drug companies declare the ‘landed cost’ of the drug and thus reduce costs. At present, the NPPA only has the authority to merely fix the profit margin on imported drugs, despite suspicions that ‘some companies are launching their drugs in India by declaring a much higher price (than cost of the drug)’.

This all comes in the wake of patent problems for Big Pharma in India. Novartis is challenging India for denying the pharma giant a patent for Glivec (imatinib mesylate), its blockbuster cancer drug [1]. While Bayer lost its challenge against the Indian Government’s decision to grant a compulsory licence on its cancer drug Nexavar (sorafenib) on 14 September 2012 [2].

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1.  GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. India’s patent laws coming under repeated challenges [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2012 Sept 20]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Policies-Legislation/India-s-patent-laws-coming-under-repeated-challenges

2.   GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Bayer loses Nexavar compulsory licence appeal [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2012 Sept 20]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Generics/News/Bayer-loses-Nexavar-compulsory-licence-appeal

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Source: The Wall Street Journal, The Economic Times of India

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