Center could drastically reduce rates of popular but expensive drugs and revises list of essential drugs


The Ministry of Health involved the Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) – the department that manages central government pharmacies called Jan Aushadhi Kendra – to send the data on sales of selected molecules.

Prices of popular and high-demand diabetes and antibacterial drugs could fall as Narendra Modi government plans to review the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) based on market sales, has learned.

The government is considering including very expensive and popular drugs such as the antidiabetic drug sitagliptin, the widely used antibacterial injectable meropenem and the drug cefpodoxime, under price controls.

While the revised list of 399 formulations has been submitted by an expert committee of the Indian Council of Medical Research, major changes have been requested by union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya, sources familiar with the development said. .

The Ministry of Health has involved the Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) – the department that runs central government pharmacies called Jan Aushadhi Kendras – to send the sales data of at least 12 molecules over the past three years. These two molecules come from the best-selling categories such as cardiac, antidiabetic, antibiotic, antifungal and gastric.

“The data was submitted by BPPI and is being reviewed by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) for further suggestions to the minister’s office,” an official said.

Oversight of Medicine Prices The NPPA is the body that regulates the prices of medicines under the jurisdiction of the NLEM and oversees the price reduction exercise for essential medicines by setting the cap.

The aim behind the government’s decision is to control the prices of drugs for which the demand is high and consumers end up spending more of their personal disposable income.

“The Minister of Health has reviewed the list and expressed his views. He asked us to look for new molecules that are in high demand on the market and to remove molecules that are not sold frequently,” the manager said.

Some molecules, which are part of the NLEM, are obsolete and no longer prescribed by doctors, such as the antifungal drug griseofulvin, the blood pressure drug diltiazem, and the antibacterial drug cefadroxil and cefazolin. These drugs can be replaced by fast-selling and high-priced products, he added.

“All of these drugs are obsolete and have no significant sales in the market. Instead of these molecules, the idea is to consider the inclusion of very expensive and popular molecules such as the antidiabetic drug sitagliptin, the widely used antibacterial meropenem for injection, and the drug cefpodoxime,” the official said. . “The new list will include drugs that are very expensive but life-saving and used by the masses.”

Essential but expensive

Sample this – a 1,000 milligram vial of meropenem is priced at a maximum retail price (MRP) of Rs 2,979.

The drug is an antibiotic used to treat serious infections of the skin, lungs, stomach, urinary tract, blood and brain and is commonly used to treat critically ill patients admitted to hospital.

Major brands of meropenem include AstraZeneca, Cipla, Macleods, and Lupin, among others.

“This molecule is used for almost every patient admitted for surgery in hospitals. If included in the NLEM, prices can be significantly reduced, helping patients save money,” the official said.

Another anti-diabetic molecule, sitagliptin, is about to lose its patent in the coming months.

Sitagliptin is used to control blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes under the popular brand name Januvia from the American drugmaker MSD. A daily medicine for diabetics in India, a strip of 15 tablets for 100 milligrams costs Rs 674.

Similarly, the NLEM includes omeprazole, an acid reflux medication (sold at Rs 55 per 10 capsules). Omeprazole is sold more in combination with domperidone – popular under the brand names Aciloc RD or Ocid-D. However, the combination drug is not part of the Essential Medicines List, which is sold for an MRP between Rs 70 and Rs 190 for 10 tablets.

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