The Telegraph
Wednesday , October 3 , 2012
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Since 1st March, 1999

SC asks Centre not to alter pricing system for essential drugs

New Delhi, Oct 3 (PTI): The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the government not to alter the existing pricing system for essential medicines, a step that may allegedly lead to a steep hike in their prices.

“We make it clear that the Government should not alter the price system as notified on July 13, 1999 and similar subsequent notification,” said a bench headed by justice G S Singhvi, while granting seven days to the Centre to decide on the pricing of essential medicines.

The bench said it is concerned about the issue and it is needed for the court to intervene into the issue.

“We are directly concerned about it. The court does not run the government, but it steps in only when required,” the bench observed while posting the matter for further hearing on next Tuesday, October 9.

The Centre informed the court that the recommendations, made by the Group of Ministers, would soon be placed before the Cabinet for final decision on the issue.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation plea filed in 2003 by the All India Drugs Action Network and others which had complained that currently only around 78 drugs are placed under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 1995 (DPCO) making rest of the medicines beyond the reach of the common man.

During the last hearing on the matter, the petitioner's counsel had expressed apprehension that the proposed drug policy may lead to a steep hike in prices of essential drugs.

The apex court on last hearing too had asked the government to ensure that rates do not “escalate” and cause a burden on the common man.