The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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More powers for drug price controller likely

New Delhi, Dec. 1: A move is afoot to grant more powers to the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) in order to ensure it becomes an effective watchdog to monitor drug prices.

The functioning of the NPPA, the apex body that controls drug prices, has been hamstrung by its inability to enforce its directives, the lack of manpower and poor cooperation from the pharmaceutical industry whose operations it is meant to oversee.

The standing committee on chemicals and fertilisers has urged the government to immediately adopt the recommendations of the committee constituted to render suggestions to improve the functions of the NPPA. In its latest report, the committee says the NPPA must be given sufficient powers in the next amendment of Drug Price Control Order of 1995 to make this body more effective in fixing and monitoring prices of drugs/pharmaceuticals. The announcement of a new Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) is hanging fire following a stay order issued by the Bangalore high court.

The committee had earlier recommended that the government should strengthen the monitoring system of NPPA to help it to maintain checks and ensure that pharmaceutical companies are selling medicines at the prices it sets for the 74 drugs that it regulates.

The NPPA has claimed that it does not have the requisite field force of its own to enforce the prices. It has claimed it has inadequate manpower to deal with the industry which has about 20,000 companies and 60,000 formulations.

The committee has stated in its latest report that the government should provide the required manpower to ensure proper monitoring of prices fixed by NPPA. Highlighting the importance of the monitoring role of NPPA, the committtee has noted that the prices of drugs can not be controlled by notifications alone.

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