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Economic Survey 2022| Govt initiative led to up to 89% fall in prices of key Covid devices

The prices of drugs and medical devices in India have long been under the scanner for unaffordability to a large chunk of the population but the government now claims that it is trying to fix a trade margin ceiling for many drugs, including the ones used in COVID treatment, to make them easily accessible to people.

January 31, 2022 / 04:26 PM IST
Oxygen concentrator (Representational image)

Oxygen concentrator (Representational image)

New Delhi: The decision taken by the central government on June 3 last year, to bring several crucial medical devices used to treat and manage COVID-19 under price control by fixing a trade margin may have lowered their prices by up to 89 percent, said the Economic Survey report 2022, presented in the Parliament on January 31.

The medical devices which were brought under price control included oxygen concentrators, pulse oximeter, glucometer, blood pressure monitor, nebulizer, and digital thermometer.

According to the survey report, the availability of key medicines—used in COVID19 treatment- is also being monitored through regular surveys being conducted at chemist shops at various locations across the country by the Drug Controller General of India.

The report said that through the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, ceiling prices for 355 medicines and 886 formulations have been fixed for medicines under the National List of Essential Medicines, 2015 till December last year.

In addition, retail prices for approximately 1,798 formulations were fixed under the Drugs (Price Control) Order 2013 till last year.

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The survey report also underlined that during the recent years, exercising extraordinary powers under the order in the public interest, prices of coronary stents and knee implants have also been fixed while the NPPA also capped the trade margin up to 30 percent on selected 42 anti-cancer non-schedule medicine on a pilot basis in February 2019.

Importantly, based on the recommendations of the standing committee on affordable medicines and health products, NITI Aayog, NPPA capped the trade margin for Oxygen Concentrators at 70 percent on price to distributor level in June last year.

The price capping on concentrators, apart from other devices used in COVID19 management, said the report, meant that most of the brands of these devices have dropped prices up to 89 percent.

While most of the drugs used for COVID management are scheduled drugs for which ceiling price has been given by NPPA, even in the case of some non-scheduled medicines such as Remdesivir—which has been a part of COVID treatment protocol, on government intervention, MRPs of various brands of the drug was reduced voluntarily by the major manufacturers or marketers, said the report.

It added that a multi-pronged approach is followed to monitor and coordinate equitable distribution of Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, and Amphotericin—a drug needed to manage patients inflicted with black fungus or mucormycosis.

During the second wave of the pandemic in India, a large number of black fungus cases had been reported from various cities—presumably due to overuse of steroids in COVID patients.



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