Indian ministers put final touches on 348-drug 'essentials' list

India has taken another step toward broad drug-price controls. A panel of government ministers finalized its proposal for containing drug costs and broadening access to meds, with a list of 348 "essential drugs" that would be subject to a government price squeeze.

That's almost 5 times as many products as the 74 drugs now deemed "essential," Reuters reports. The newly designated essentials are worth $5.42 billion, wholesale. That's about 60% of the domestic market, the Press Trust of India figures. The list includes brands sold by domestic and foreign drugmakers.

Sources say the caps could slash prices on some drugs up to 90%, with 25% cuts on the low end. Under an earlier draft, price ceilings would be equal to the average prices of three top-selling brands for each type of drug molecule, The Times of India reports. Other proposals have focused on other price-setting mechanisms.

The final proposal comes after India's Supreme Court prodded the government for action last week. Now, the plan goes to the Indian cabinet for action, officials say. "We have finalized every thing today," Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told reporters. "Now it will go to the Cabinet and the Cabinet will take the final view. We will send it in a week's time."

- read the Reuters news
- see the Press Trust story
- get the Times piece

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