Prices for necessary medicines like as painkillers, antibiotics, and anti-infectives are due to rise beginning in April, with the government authorising an increase of more than 10% for the scheduled drugs
India’s drug pricing authority “National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA)” on Friday allowed a price hike of 10.7% for scheduled drugs-which are under price control. This is the highest price hike allowed. Over 800 drugs under the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) will see a price rise from April.
The NLEM list includes drugs like paracetamol, antibiotics like azithromycin, used to treat bacterial infections, antianemia, vitamins and minerals. Some drugs used for treating moderately to severely ill Covid-19 patients and steroids are also included in the list.
The increase is in line with the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), the NPPA said.
“Based on the WPI data provided by the office of the Economic Advisor, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the annual change in WPI works out as 10.76607% during the calendar year 2021 over the corresponding period in 2020,” the NPPA notice on Friday said.
Prices of scheduled drugs are allowed each year by the drug price regulator. The industry has been demanding a substantial increase as it has been battling rising input costs due to the pandemic.
According to the industry experts, over the last two years, prices of some key APIs have increased between 15% to 130% with the price of paracetamol jumping 130%. Likewise, prices of excipients have risen between 18%-262%. The prices of glycerin and propylene glycol, solvents used in every liquid preparation including syrups, oral drops and sterile preparations have skyrocketed by 263% and 83%, respectively. They said that the prices of intermediates have registered an increase between 11% to 175% with pencillin G registering a 175 % jump.
Earlier in November, a lobby group that represents over 1000 Indian pharmaceutical manufacturers had urged the government to allow prices of all scheduled formulations to be increased by 10% with immediate effect. It had also asked to increase prices of all non-scheduled drugs by 20%.
“It’s a reprieve as prices of APIs and intermediates have gone up considerably,” said an industry expert on the condition of anonymity.
Chinu Srinivasan, who is associated with the All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN), a patient rights’ group, said the basket of drugs under price control, about 16% of the total pharma market, will increase by 10%.