Himachal HC forms committee on drug prices
Shimla, Dec 29 (PTI) Himachal High Court today constituted a 14-member panel of experts to identify the live saving drugs being sold at high rates in medical stores and suggest it from where these medicines could be purchased at nominal price for the benefit of the public.
Hearing a public interest petition questioning the high prices of life-saving drugs at medical stores, a division bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjay Karol observed, "No doubt the pharmaceutical companies are entitled to earn profit, but the profits must be reasonable."
The committee consists of principals and professors of various departments Indira Gandhi Medical College Shimla and Government Medical Collage Tanda (Kangra) and the Medical Superintendent of IGMC would be its convener.
The court asked the committee to hold its meeting at the earliest and submit the report by January 10, 2013 and fixed the next hearing on March 21.
The court said, "The pharmaceutical companies cannot be permitted to rake in huge profits on account of the misery of the poor, uneducated, teeming millions of this country and we are sure that if prices can be controlled, the cost of health care will come down drastically and the government will be able to provide more and better facilities to the poor people of the country."
The court also directed the Principal Secretary (Health) to constitute similar committee of doctors working in the state by January 31 next year.
Citing the case of life-saving drug Atorvastatin, used for heart ailments, the court said this drug is manufactured by Hetero Labs Ltd and marketed by Gen X Pharma Ltd under the brand name of GenxVast and the price for a pack of 10 tablets of 10 mg each is Rs 12.
However, the same manufacturer''s drug marketed under brand name Lilo by Glaxo Smith Kline costs Rs 33.75 for a pack of 10 tablets, which is almost three-fold increase in the price, the court said.
The court said the fact that the same manufacturer is manufacturing the identical drug of identical potency under different brand names and pricing them differently and questioned "How can a poor patient, who comes from a rural background, confront a doctor or a chemist when he is sold an expensive medicine."
The court also directed the pharma companies to file their reply stating what steps they are taking to ensure that drugs are available at the minimum prices.