Delhi High Court tells India's NPPA to ease up on price caps

Ease up, the Delhi High Court said to drug regulators who sent dunning notices to pharmaceutical companies that allegedly did not cooperate with the latest round of price caps that are routinely revised for products under a list of 348 drugs deemed essential.

A two-judge panel of the court, NDTV said, cited the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, or NPPA, for acting prematurely in sending the notices to Cipla, Novartis ($NVS) and other drugmakers. The court was acting on petitions from drugmakers challenging the notices, and not the constitutionality of the policy.

The notices to the companies, NDTV said, accused them of selling their products at higher prices than the limit imposed by the Drug Price Control Order earlier this year.

The justices said companies were not given a chance to have their challenges heard in court before the notices were sent. "No coercive action shall be taken till disposal of the show-cause notices," NDTV said, citing the court order.

It also advised the government that companies did not have to cap the prices of drugs already on the market when the new limits were imposed. Such drugs must be sold, however, at the revised price or the price on their label, whichever was lower.

In their challenge to the notices, the drugmakers claimed they were in compliance, but could not control the price determinations of companies at the retail level.

Besides Cipla and Novartis, the challenging pharmas included Alembic Pharmaceutical, Chiron Behring Vaccines, Intas Pharmaceuticals, Lupin, Sandoz and Wockhardt.

Earlier in November, the NPPA capped prices of 18 drug formulations, including treatments for diabetes, hypertension and pneumonia. The caps are set after reviews of ranges in the market for essential drug prices and based on a simple average of all medicines in a particular therapeutic segment that have more than 1% of the market.

- here's the story from NDTV