New Delhi, Oct 3 (PTI): The Supreme Court on Thursday raised a question on the new Drugs (Prices Control) Order or DPCO that was notified by the Union government in May this year with the aim of fixing an upper limit on prices of essential medicines on the basis of market-based prices.
A bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi said the Centre is being guided by market driven forces and asked a non-government organisation that had challenged the policy to place before it statistics on comparative analysis of drug prices under the new policy and the existing market price.
“This DPCO will encourage profiteering of medicine brands prescribed by doctors,” the bench said, after senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the NGO, alleged that under the new policy the margin of profit for drug manufacturer and dealer has increased multiple times.
“Government is being guided by market driven forces,” the bench said, asking the NGO to place statistics on the pricing on medicines.
”Theoretically, you are right but you have to prove it from statistics. We are concerned about the patients,” the bench said asking the petitioner to place data by Tuesday when the case will be taken up for further hearing.
Additional Solicitor General Siddharth Luthra submitted that there is nothing wrong in the policy and there is difference in retail and bulk price of the medicines.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by the All India Drug Action Network which contended that market-based pricing or MBP is never used for any price regulatory purposes and under the new policy simple average ceiling prices are in many cases higher than the market leader price.
It sought a direction to Centre to continue with cost-based ceiling prices of all essential drugs.
“Pursuant to orders of this court to the effect that government should bring all essential medicines under price control, Centre expanded the list of medicines to be brought under control…However, at the same time it has effectively undermined this court's directive that medicines should be made affordable for the common man. It has done this by making a pretence of price control by introducing MBP,” it said.
It also contended that National List of Essential Drugs consists of only 348 drugs and left out many essential medicines from price control.