India to cut prices for essential drugs

A precedent-setting price cut to more than 700 so-called essential drugs in India could happen as soon as April. The drugs in question include painkillers, infection treatments, diabetes drugs, cardiac treatments as well as antibiotics and could fall by as much as 3%, according to a report in the Economic Times. This is the first time, the report said, that an "across the board" cut in prices for treatments on the National List of Essential Medicines has happened since the country's National Pharmaceutical Policy was put into effect in 2013. The price cut will adhere to the change in annual wholesale price index, which was -2.75% for the January-December period. The report said most drug companies supported the move, but some have balked at the cuts and are pushing the government to cancel its plans. The report pointed out that under India's "Drug Price Control Order" of 2013, manufacturers can change the maximum retail price on drugs once a year in April using the wholesale price index of the preceding calendar year and can do so without government approval. The law also says that if the index declines, then prices have to be reduced as well. "The price drop in medicines will be in the interest of patients, and we are in favor," Daara Patel, secretary general of the Indian Drug Manufacturers Association, said in the report. In 2014 drugmakers raised prices by almost 4% because of the increase in the wholesale price index. That increase led to the firing of the head of the country's National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, but officials said in April 2015 that the sacking of the chief may have actually been because companies he oversaw complained about moves he made that cost the companies money. Report