New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked NGO All India Drug Action Network to make a representation to the central government pointing out its objections to the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy 2013 providing controlled prices of 348 drugs as it observed the policy seems to be pro-pharmaceutical companies and not pro-poor.
Asking the petitioner to make a representation to the health ministry and the department of pharmaceuticals, a bench of Justice T.S.Thakur, Justice V.Gopala Gowda and Justice R. Banumathi observed: "What kind of control it is. It (drug price) has no co-relation with actual production cost. You are not being pro-poor but pro-pharmaceutical companies."
Observing that there was conflict in the policy which on one hand says that it aims to make available affordable medicines to the people and on the other, talks of securing profits for the pharmaceutical companies for their growth, the court asked the NGO to make representation within six weeks and asked the government to respond to the same in six months' time thereafter.
Noting that there was a huge variance in the prices of the drugs being sold by the pharmaceutical companies to Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Rajasthan than those fixed under the control order, the court observed that the "pharmaceutical companies were already charging 5,000 times of the production cost and then you are taking the average of them and fixing under the drug price control order. This is legitimising the profiteering".
The court also noted the NGO's submission that prices fixed under the price control order were higher than what was being charged by the market leader in pharmaceutical sector.
Saying that government was open to consider the representation, Additional Solicitor General Pinki Anand, appearing for the government, said: "All I am saying that provinces in India are much lower than those prevailing in other countries."
"We will have a look to add some more" drugs under the price control order, she said.
The court noted that the government was buying drugs at a price many more times than what Tamil Nadu was paying and described the situation as "absurd".
Appearing for the NGO, senior counsel Colin Gonsalves told the court that besides institutionalising the "super profits" in the guise of drugs price control order, a large number of drugs that are prescribed under various national health projects to fight malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases are not included in the order.
He said that similarly the medicines for diabetes and hypertensions including lifesaving drugs including that of cancer don't form part of the drug price control order.