|Dr Arun Mitra sharing his thoughts during Seminar|
Ludhiana, July 09, 2017 (Online News Ludhiana): A seminar on the subject “Streamline Drug Prices for Affordable Healthcare” called upon the government to prepare a trade policy for pharmaceutical sector to fix the prices of drugs based on the cost involved in their production.
The present policy of fixing prices based on 1% maximum selling products is flawed and leads to exorbitant profit margins. The price of the drugs and implants used in healthcare should be calculated as per the cost accountancy only. No other method can lead to justifiable fixation of prices of drugs. The profit margin on the cost thus calculated should not be more than 10% for the wholesaler and 20% for the retailer. No other profit should be given to the health provider facility. The difference between the actual price of the drugs and the MRP should not be more than 20% because at present it is up to 700-800% in some cases.
Addressing the gathering Dr Shakeel Ur Rahman, General Secretary IDPD said that as accepted in the National Health Policy 2017 document out of pocket expenditure on health pushes nearly 6.3 crore people below poverty line. Out of which expenditure on drugs is to the tune of 67%. Govt. also admits that public spending on health is very low and proposes to increase it from present 1.04% to 2.9% of the GDP. Drug companies in the public sector Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (IDPL), Hindustan Antibiotics Ltd, Rajasthan Drugs and Pharmaceutical Ltd, Karnatka Antibiotic and Pharmaceutical Ltd, Bengals Chemicals and Pharmaceutical Ltd and Central Research Institute (CRI) Kasauli played a marvelous role in producing cheap bulk drugs not only for India but around the world and earned acclaim from the WHO for their work. After the WTO regime came into being several restrictions were imposed on Indian companies and therefore new drugs are very expensive.
Dr Mira Shiva, from AIADN pointed out how international pressures have been working to scuttle Indian pharmaceutical industry. This trends needs to be reversed and India must produce cheap bulk and quality drugs. She pointed out that there has been opposition by some sectors in India as well as manufacturers in the west against reduction of stent prices which happened after a long drawn struggle by several organisations including All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN), Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare (ADEH), Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) and a PIL filed by advocate Birender Sangwan which forced the government to reduce stent prices after a court order.
Dr G S Grewal, said that they had submitted a memorandum to the chairman of the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) with evidence of profit margin sometimes up to 700 – 800 % particularly in case of implants and generic drugs. We demanded to streamline these prices as in case of coronary stents. The NPPA chairman was asked to ensure that the Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices should be made mandatory and freebies to the health providers should be completely done away with. Such expenses should not be tax exempted as there is already an order by the Central Board of Direct Taxes to the effect as such expenses add to the cost of drugs, he said.
Dr Arun Mitra termed the decision of to disinvest the Pharmaceutical PSUs is very unfortunate. These must be strengthened instead. He also demanded that all medicines should be declared as essential because no one takes medicine by choice. Any chemical once it is labeled as medicine automatically becomes essential. The clause of bringing only the drugs in the National List of Essential Medicines under Drug Price Control is flawed and is an escape route for the pharma companies to evade price control.
Dr S S Gill - Former Vice Chancellor Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences, Dr Amarjit Singh Khaira - Former Vice Chancellor Punjab Agriculture University and Sanjeev Sharma – Vice President Punjab Medical Representative Association also addressed the seminar.
Dr A G Thomas – Director CMC and Hospital and S P Karkara – Former Commissioner MC Ludhiana and President of Federation of Senior Citizens Association of Punjab also present in the occasion.
Dr Sanjeev Uppal said that without a proper infrastructure to ask the doctors to prescribe drugs with pharmacological names will leave the patients to the mercy of retailers. This has to be properly done.
Dr Shakti Kumar, Dr Bharti Uppal, Dr Indervir Singh Gill and Several persons took part in the discussion.
The seminar was organized jointly by Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare (ADEH), Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD), Punjab Chemists Association and Social Thinkers Forum.
It was decided to carry forward the message throughout the country.