India's Punjab state goes its own way on drug price caps

Punjab Health Minister Surjit Kumar Jyani

Regardless of what the national government does in the way of fixing drug prices, the Indian state of Punjab said it would fix its own prices for essential and generic drugs. The state prices apparently would piggy-back the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority system.

The Press Trust of India article report citing an official Punjab government spokesman was not clear, but it appeared the that even if a drug were covered by NPPA price controls, those and other drugs not India's national list of essential medicines could be subject to even lower caps.

According to the report, Punjab Health Minister Surjit Kumar Jyani said essential and generic drugs would be available in the state "only at rates fixed by the government."

The report applies the word "government" interchangeably to the state and the national levels.

The article said Punjab issued "fresh guidelines" to its drug inspectors to ensure that pharmacists adhere to the fixed prices, and ordered pharmacies also to follow the NPPA guidelines, including its most recent price changes that in some cases lowered the caps by as much as 50 percent.

Jyani also lashed out at pharmacies and drug manufacturers large and small for "daylight robbery of poor patients" by inflating prices beyond those on the labels of generic drugs.

- here's the story from Business Standard