New Delhi: Prices of all scheduled drugs are likely to go up by around 3.4% in April.

According to the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) 2013, prices of scheduled drugs are revised in line with the wholesale price index (WPI) of the previous calendar year.

While the pharmaceutical industry is supposed to implement the revised prices from 1 April every year, India’s drug price regulator, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), is yet to notify the prices. Industry groups say the delay has been because the NPPA chairman’s position is vacant.

B.R. Sikri, president of the Federation of Pharmaceutical Entrepreneurs (FOPE), said that the delay will cause losses to the industry. “The delay in notification will lead to a revenue loss to the industry. Somebody in the department of pharmaceutical should be empowered to take this important decision till the new incumbent is recruited. The industry should not suffer due to it," he said.

The government regulates prices of medicines that are part of the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) by capping their ceiling prices at the simple average of all drugs in a particular segment with market share of at least 1%. The list comprises over 850 medicines ranging from cancer drugs to anti-retrovirals and those used in treatment of diabetes, hypertension, hepatitis and kidney disorders. The list also includes antibiotics, analgesics, stents and condoms.

For medicines outside the NLEM, companies are allowed to raise prices by as much as 10% a year.

The price revision will come as a relief to the industry. Last year the price increase was around 2.9%. However, in the previous year the wholesale price index was 0.97% and the industry had to reduce the price despite operational costs being higher.

According to two people aware of the matter, this time the industry had approached both the department of pharmaceuticals and NPPA for an earlier notification. However, with the chairman of NPPA being transferred to another department, the notification has not been released.

“There are lot of changes that are needed in the back end. The industry will always look forward to the notification as the prices have to be changed with effect from 1 April. There challenges related to logistics and we would always want a breathing time. However, the delay in the notification is a setback for the industry. Nothing can be done unless the NPPA notifies it," said Deepnath Roy Chowdhury, president, Indian drugs Manufacturers Association.

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