Drug associations boycott pharma department’s meeting on drug prices control
Drug lobby groups allege that the Department of Pharmaceuticals is hoodwinking them by giving a very short notice to them to air their opinion on the proposed changes in the Drug Prices Control Order 2013
New Delhi: Major drug lobby groups distanced themselves from the crucial meeting held by the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) on the proposed changes in the Drug Prices Control Order (DPCO) 2013 on Tuesday.
Alleging that the department is hoodwinking the lobby groups by giving a very short notice to them to air their opinion, they asked the pharma department to defer the meeting and give them enough time to discuss the agenda of the meeting with their members before participating. The Indian pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) that represents top drug companies, Indian Drugs’ Manufacturing Association (IDMA), Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) boycotted the Tuesday meeting.
The pharma department had sent out an invite for the meeting on Friday afternoon for discussing the proposed amendments of DPCO 2013 without sharing any agenda, creating a sense of urgency. The IPA in its letter to the DoP on Monday asked the department to provide “reasonable time” so as to discuss the matter among their members before they attend the meeting. “This is too short a notice for senior people coming from outstation. In addition, the letter does not contain the “proposed amendments”. Hence, we are unable to discuss them with our Members, before coming to the meeting. Moreover, we need reasonable time to discuss them among our Members before we can discuss the proposed amendments with Secretary (Pharma),” read the letter by D.G. Shah, secretary general, IPA.
The IPA had urged the department that the lobby groups be provided with the proposed amendments before they are discussed in the meeting. “Give us time of at least 15 days to discuss among our Members and notice of at least 10 days to attend a meeting. We trust that you will appreciate our compulsions as an association of seeking views of our Members to come with one voice,” the letter further said.
Another member of an industry lobby group who did not wish to be named also questioned the “urgency” of the meeting. “How come issues which are pending for months become so urgent that a meeting is called without giving an ample notice? These are important issues and cannot be a face saving exercise by the department”.
As reported by Mint, the secretary, DoP had called a meeting to discuss the proposed amendments in DPCO, 2013. While drug pricing watchdog National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA) governs price control, DPCO is the order by which price control is enforced. DPCOs are issued by the chemicals ministry and issued under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, through which certain medicines could be declared as essential commodities and their prices capped. The National List of Essential Medicines, issued by the ministry of health and family welfare, forms the basis of deciding which medicines should come under price control via DPCO.
During the meeting on Tuesday, the secretary DoP discussed the issue of rationalization of trade margins in medical devices, operational issues related to the India’s pricing watchdog National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA), fixing prices of new drugs, among other issues, urging the representatives to bring forth their suggestions in a bid to improve ease of doing business.
The meeting was attended by Federation of Pharma Entrepreneurs (FOBE), top trade bodies like Federation of Indian chambers of commerce and industry (FICCI), Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India ASSOCHAM, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, American Chamber of Commerce in India, lobby body healthcare federation of India (NAThealth), among others.