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Photo: iStockphoto
Photo: iStockphoto

Prices of syringes, intraocular lens, cardiac catheters likely to be cut

  • Government starts new process to identify essential medical devices and medicines to bring them under price control
  • Medical device makers recommend that prices of syringes, needles , IV cannulas, IOL, cardiac catheters and guidewires among others should be regulated

Prices of some medical devices like syringes, needles, IV Cannulas, intraocular lens, cardiac catheters and guide wires are likely to go down, as the government starts the new process to identify essential devices and medicines to bring them under price control.

A newly-constituted committee on the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) met the stakeholders on Thursday to shortlist such drugs and devices that should be available in adequate numbers and assured quality at any given time in a healthcare setting.

Medical device makers attending the meeting have recommended that prices of Syringes, Needles , IV Cannulas, IOL, Cardiac Catheters & Guidewires among other medical devices should be regulated. Among the drugs the experts are looking at reducing prices of drugs used for treatment of cancer cardiac, diabetes and antibiotics.

Calling it a positive start Rajiv Nath, Forum Coordinator AiMeD welcome the move, “A Positive start to a long drawn fresh process has been initiated today by Secretary DHR to compartmentalise decision for defining Essentiality for a healthcare product whether a medicine or medical disposables & consumables or other medical devices or hygiene products.This standing committee will ensure the the wide spread nationwide availability of what’s defined Essential. The role of the Regulator and other Healthcare stakeholders of which of these essential healthcare products will be coming under price Controls and whether needed or not will be an independent process going forward, we were assured. We have also been asked to suggest devices which could be used to limit spread of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)."

The government has decided to increase the basket of medicines and medical products—such as devices, disposables and hygiene items—that it says should be available within the healthcare system.

The NLEM committee, headed by Balram Bhargava, secretary, department of health research and director-general of the Indian Council of Medical Research, has been entrusted with a task to decide on essential medicines and devices and send the list to a second committee, comprising Rajiv Kumar, vice-chairman of Niti Aayog, Preeti Sudan, secretary of the health ministry, and P. Raghavendra Rao, secretary of the department of pharmaceuticals, for deciding which ones are to be brought under price control.

This is a departure from the existing mechanism in which all essential medicines were brought under price control. Under the previous mechanism, the health ministry prepared a list of drugs eligible for price regulation, following which the department of pharmaceuticals, which comes under the ministry of chemicals and fertilizers, incorporated them into schedule-1 of DPCO (drug price control order). Following this, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) fixed the prices of drugs in this schedule.

Medicines and devices listed in NLEM must be sold at the price fixed by NPPA, while those in the non-scheduled list are allowed a maximum annual price hike of 10%.

The meeting on Thursday attended by stakeholders, including representatives of drug makers, pharma lobby groups and non-profits, have been asked for their feedback on cancer drugs, cardiology drugs, penicillin preparations, information on anti-microbial resistance and a review of NLEM 2015. The NLEM list is reviewed every three years to include or exclude drugs.

The changes to the list of essential medicines, according to industry experts, is expected to be made on the lines of the World Health Organization’s essential list published earlier this month. “The committee is looking into the drugs with the potential to improve outcomes with advanced therapies for cancer, cardiac ailments and diabetes. It will also look into antibiotics drugs and its resistance," said a senior member of a pharma lobby group on condition of anonymity.

Non-government organisation, All India Drugs Action Network (AIDAN), has suggested “to evaluate several cancer drugs that are on the WHO list.

The committee’s intervention was also sought on “the proliferation of irrational combinations which has reached a dangerous magnitude". “We are keen to see more medical devices on NLEM?" Said Malini Aisola, vo-convenor, AIDAN. For example, in a market which is unique in having a plethora of combinations in analgesics and antibiotics, the NLEM should discourage their prescription and use by highlighting that there are only a few rational combinations for such classes of drugs".

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