Pharmaceuticals: How much was that drug?!

Helee Desai

People are bound to get sick and in turn pharmaceutical drugs are consistently produced and sold throughout the world. As this process goes on and on, pharmaceutical companies have growing bank accounts and no central method of regulating prices across the globe. In India specifically, a specific organization has been entrusted with the task of fixation/revision of prices of pharmaceutical products (bulk drugs and formulations), enforcement of provisions of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order and monitoring of the prices of controlled and decontrolled drugs in the country. This entity is titled “National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority”, or shortened – NPPA. Their specific role is described as an authority that “has been entrusted with the task of fixation/revision of prices of pharmaceutical products (bulk drugs and formulations), enforcement of provisions of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order and monitoring of the prices of controlled and decontrolled drugs in the country. (National)”

Backlash
In an industry that does further the prevention and treatment of many illnesses, the payoff tends to be monetary. An authority such as the NPPA focuses on affordable access for all, but may be hindering many pharmaceutical companies from making the profit they seek. The actions of the NPPA were recently challenged by an Indian pharmaceutical company – Lupin Limited. They have submitted claims that prices that the NPPA fixed for some of their anti turberculosis and asthma drugs are below the cost the company has incurred (Lupin). They are going as far as questioning how the NPPA even came up with the price ceiling that was set for these specific drugs. When such controversy occurs, pharmaceutical companies clearly may not prosper, however along with them the patients may not either. Such a struggle may even cause the not yet released asthma drug to be delayed. In keeping patients in mind, there are ways in which the ideals of the NPPA may hurt the citizens of India.

Support
With the negative aspects of such laws, benefits do also exist for patients as a whole. The NPPA has kept the needs of the citizens and affordability in mind when imposing rules to enforce a price ceiling on a number of drugs in the industry. For those who may not have had access before, this organization and method provides a means for a larger population to be able to obtain the medications needed to build a healthier community.

When it comes down to it, who comes first? – The multi million dollar pharmaceutical industry or the patient? Although the industry does need to make profits to succeed and continue with research and development, it is crucial in many nations that the public be able to afford pharmaceutical drugs. In addition, it is unclear how organizations such as NPPA perform an appropriate cost analysis in order to further their work. The answer to such questions may vary from company to company however I feel the NPPA’s goals work towards improving access to healthcare are a step to giving more of the public access to the medications they may need.

Sources:

National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority. National Informatics Center. NPAA. November 5, 2011

Lupin challenges tuberculosis drug price fixed by National Pharmaceutical …
Economic Times – November 6th, 2011
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/healthcare/biotech/pharmaceuticals/lupin-challenges-tuberculosis-drug-price-fixed-by-national-pharmaceutical-pricing-authority/articleshow/10636135.cms

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